Using Molecular Networking for Microbial Secondary Metabolite Bioprospecting

Kevin Purves, Lynsey Macintyre, Debra Brennan, Gudmundur Hreggviðsson, Eva Kuttner, Margrét Ásgeirsdóttir, Louise Young, David Green, Ruangelie Edrada-Ebel, Katherine Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The oceans represent an understudied resource for the isolation of bacteria with the potential to produce novel secondary metabolites. In particular, actinomyces are well known to produce chemically diverse metabolites with a wide range of biological activities. This study characterised spore-forming bacteria from both Scottish and Antarctic sediments to assess the influence of isolation location on secondary metabolite production. Due to the selective isolation method used, all 85 isolates belonged to the phyla Firmicutes and Actinobacteria, with the majority of isolates belonging to the genera Bacillus and Streptomyces. Based on morphology, thirty-eight isolates were chosen for chemical investigation. Molecular networking based on chemical profiles (HR-MS/MS) of fermentation extracts was used to compare complex metabolite extracts. The results revealed 40% and 42% of parent ions were produced by Antarctic and Scottish isolated bacteria, respectively, and only 8% of networked metabolites were shared between these locations, implying a high degree of biogeographic influence upon secondary metabolite production. The resulting molecular network contained over 3500 parent ions with a mass range of m/z 149–2558 illustrating the wealth of metabolites produced. Furthermore, seven fermentation extracts showed bioactivity against epithelial colon adenocarcinoma cells, demonstrating the potential for the discovery of novel bioactive compounds from these understudied locations.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2016


  • molecular networking
  • secondary metabolites
  • bioprospecting
  • bacteria
  • Antarctica


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