- Biological activities of aqueous and organic extracts from tropical marine sponges (2010)
- We report on screening tests of 66 extracts obtained from 35 marine sponge species from the Caribbean Sea (Curaçao) and from eight species from the Great Barrier Reef (Lizard Island). Extracts were prepared in aqueous and organic solvents and were tested for hemolytic, hemagglutinating, antibacterial and anti-acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activities, as well as their ability to inhibit or activate cell protein phosphatase 1 (PP1). The most interesting activities were obtained from extracts of Ircinia felix, Pandaros acanthifolium, Topsentia ophiraphidites, Verongula rigida and Neofibularia nolitangere. Aqueous and organic extracts of I. felix and V. rigida showed strong antibacterial activity. Topsentia aqueous and some organic extracts were strongly hemolytic, as were all organic extracts from I. felix. The strongest hemolytic activity was observed in aqueous extracts from P. acanthifolium. Organic extracts of N. nolitangere and I. felix inhibited PP1. The aqueous extract from Myrmekioderma styx possessed the strongest hemagglutinating activity, whilst AChE inhibiting activity was found only in a few sponges and was generally weak, except in the methanolic extract of T. ophiraphidites.
- Biological activities of ethanolic extracts from deep-sea antarctic marine sponges (2013)
- We report on the screening of ethanolic extracts from 33 deep-sea Antarctic marine sponges for different biological activities. We monitored hemolysis, inhibition of acetylcholinesterase, cytotoxicity towards normal and transformed cells and growth inhibition of laboratory, commensal and clinically and ecologically relevant bacteria. The most prominent activities were associated with the extracts from sponges belonging to the genus Latrunculia, which show all of these activities. While most of these activities are associated to already known secondary metabolites, the extremely strong acetylcholinesterase inhibitory potential appears to be related to a compound unknown to date. Extracts from Tetilla leptoderma, Bathydorus cf. spinosus, Xestospongia sp., Rossella sp., Rossella cf. racovitzae and Halichondria osculum were hemolytic, with the last two also showing moderate cytotoxic potential. The antibacterial tests showed significantly greater activities of the extracts of these Antarctic sponges towards ecologically relevant bacteria from sea water and from Arctic ice. This indicates their ecological relevance for inhibition of bacterial microfouling.
- Chemical camouflage – a frog's strategy to co-exist with aggressive ants (2013)
- Whereas interspecific associations receive considerable attention in evolutionary, behavioural and ecological literature, the proximate bases for these associations are usually unknown. This in particular applies to associations between vertebrates with invertebrates. The West-African savanna frog Phrynomantis microps lives in the underground nest of ponerine ants (Paltothyreus tarsatus). The ants usually react highly aggressively when disturbed by fiercely stinging, but the frog is not attacked and lives unharmed among the ants. Herein we examined the proximate mechanisms for this unusual association. Experiments with termites and mealworms covered with the skin secretion of the frog revealed that specific chemical compounds seem to prevent the ants from stinging. By HPLC-fractionation of an aqueous solution of the frogs' skin secretion, two peptides of 1,029 and 1,143 Da were isolated and found to inhibit the aggressive behaviour of the ants. By de novo sequencing using tandem mass spectrometry, the amino acid sequence of both peptides consisting of a chain of 9 and 11 residues, respectively, was elucidated. Both peptides were synthesized and tested, and exhibited the same inhibitory properties as the original frog secretions. These novel peptides most likely act as an appeasement allomone and may serve as models for taming insect aggression.
- The mitochondrial genome of the venomous cone snail conus consors (2012)
- Cone snails are venomous predatory marine neogastropods that belong to the species-rich superfamily of the Conoidea. So far, the mitochondrial genomes of two cone snail species (Conus textile and Conus borgesi) have been described, and these feed on snails and worms, respectively. Here, we report the mitochondrial genome sequence of the fish-hunting cone snail Conus consors and describe a novel putative control region (CR) which seems to be absent in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of other cone snail species. This possible CR spans about 700 base pairs (bp) and is located between the genes encoding the transfer RNA for phenylalanine (tRNA-Phe, trnF) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit III (cox3). The novel putative CR contains several sequence motifs that suggest a role in mitochondrial replication and transcription.
- Venomous secretions from marine snails of the Terebridae family target acetylcholine receptors (2013)
- Venoms from cone snails (Conidae) have been extensively studied during the last decades, but those from other members of the suborder Toxoglossa, such as of Terebridae and Turridae superfamilies attracted less interest so far. Here, we report the effects of venom and gland extracts from three species of the superfamily Terebridae. By 2-electrode voltage-clamp technique the gland extracts were tested on Xenopus oocytes expressing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) of rat neuronal (α3β2, α3β4, α4β2, α4β4, α7) and muscle subtypes (α1β1γδ), and expressing potassium (Kv1.2 and Kv1.3) and sodium channels (Nav1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.6). The extracts were shown to exhibit remarkably high inhibitory activities on almost all nAChRs tested, in particular on the α7 subtype suggesting the presence of peptides of the A-superfamily from the venom of Conus species. In contrast, no effects on the potassium and sodium channels tested were observed. The venoms of terebrid snails may offer an additional source of novel biologically active peptides.