A polyyne toxin produced by an antagonistic bacterium blinds and lyses a green microalga
in: BioRxiv (2021)
Microalgae are key contributors to global carbon fixation and the basis of many food webs. In nature, their growth is often supported or suppressed by other microorganisms. The bacterium Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5 arrests the growth of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, deflagellates the alga by the cyclic lipopeptide orfamide A, and alters its morphology. Using a combination of Raman microspectroscopy, genome mining and mutational analysis, we discovered a novel polyyne toxin we name protegencin that is secreted by P. protegens and penetrates algal cells to destroy their primitive visual system, the eyespot. Together with secreted orfamide A, protegencin prevents the phototactic behavior of C. reinhardtii needed to perform optimal photosynthesis. A protegencin-deficient biosynthetic mutant of P. protegens does not affect growth or eyespot carotenoids of C. reinhardtii. Thus, protegencin acts in a direct and destructive way, and reveals at least a two-pronged molecular strategy used by algicidal bacteria.