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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Evidence for a symbiosis island involved in horizontal acquisition of pederin biosynthetic capabilities by the bacterial symbiont of Paederus fuscipes beetles.

Pederin belongs to a group of antitumor compounds found in terrestrial beetles and marine sponges. It is used by apparently all members of the rove beetle genera Paederus and Paederidus as a chemical defense against predators. However, a recent analysis of the putative pederin biosynthesis (ped) gene cluster strongly suggests that pederin is produced by bacterial symbionts. We have sequenced an extended region of the symbiont genome to gain further insight into the biology of this as-yet-unculturable bacterium and the evolution of pederin symbiosis. Our data indicate that the symbiont is a very close relative of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that has acquired several foreign genetic elements by horizontal gene transfer. Besides one functional tellurite resistance operon, the region contains a genomic island spanning 71.6 kb that harbors the putative pederin biosynthetic genes. Several decayed insertion sequence elements and the mosaic-like appearance of the island suggest that the acquisition of the ped symbiosis genes was followed by further insertions and rearrangements. A horizontal transfer of genes for the biosynthesis of protective substances could explain the widespread occurrence of pederin-type compounds in unrelated animals from diverse habitats.[1]


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