Mass Spectrometry Uncovers the Role of Surfactin as an Interspecies Recruitment Factor

Tal Luzzatto-Knaan, Alexey V. Melnik, Pieter C. Dorrestein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microbes use metabolic exchange to sense and respond to their changing environment. Surfactins, produced by Bacillus subtilis, have been extensively studied for their role in biofilm formation, biosurfactant properties, and antimicrobial activity, affecting the surrounding microbial consortia. Using mass spectrometry, we reveal that Paenibacillus dendritiformis, originally isolated with B. subtilis, is not antagonized by the presence of surfactins and is actually attracted to them. We demonstrate here for the first time that P. dendritiformis is also actively degrading surfactins produced by B. subtilis and accumulating the degradation products that serve as territorial markers. This new attribute as an attractant of selected microbes and the conversion into a deterrent highlight the diverse role natural products have in shaping the environment and establishing mixed communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-467
Number of pages9
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Ben-Jacob laboratory for kindly providing the P. dendritiformis strain. This work was supported by BARD, the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund, via Vaadia-BARD Postdoctoral Fellowship Award FI-494-13.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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