The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Marine biofilm bacteria evade eukaryotic predation by targeted chemical defense

Matz, Carsten, Webb, Jeremy S., Schupp, Peter J., Phang, Shui Yen, Penesyan, Anahit, Egan, Suhelen, Steinberg, Peter and Kjelleberg, Staffan, McClain, Craig R.(ed.) (2008) Marine biofilm bacteria evade eukaryotic predation by targeted chemical defense PLoS ONE, 3, (7), e2744. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002744).

Record type: Article


Many plants and animals are defended from predation or herbivory by inhibitory secondary metabolites, which in the marine environment are very common among sessile organisms. Among bacteria, where there is the greatest metabolic potential, little is known about chemical defenses against bacterivorous consumers.

An emerging hypothesis is that sessile bacterial communities organized as biofilms serve as bacterial refuge from predation. By testing growth and survival of two common bacterivorous nanoflagellates, we find evidence that chemically mediated resistance against protozoan predators is common among biofilm populations in a diverse set of marine bacteria. Using bioassay-guided chemical and genetic analysis, we identified one of the most effective antiprotozoal compounds as violacein, an alkaloid that we demonstrate is produced predominately within biofilm cells.

Nanomolar concentrations of violacein inhibit protozoan feeding by inducing a conserved eukaryotic cell death program. Such biofilm-specific chemical defenses could contribute to the successful persistence of biofilm bacteria in various environments and provide the ecological and evolutionary context for a number of eukaryote-targeting bacterial metabolites.

PDF Matz_08,_chemical_defense.pdf - Other
Download (220kB)

More information

Published date: 23 July 2008
Organisations: Biological Sciences


Local EPrints ID: 146305
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 0460d7be-1c31-4f86-987b-70125ea107e3
ORCID for Jeremy S. Webb: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 21 Apr 2010 09:56
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 23:04

Export record



Author: Carsten Matz
Author: Jeremy S. Webb ORCID iD
Author: Peter J. Schupp
Author: Shui Yen Phang
Author: Anahit Penesyan
Author: Suhelen Egan
Author: Peter Steinberg
Author: Staffan Kjelleberg
Editor: Craig R. McClain

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.