PloS one

Exo-metabolome of Pseudovibrio sp. FO-BEG1 analyzed by ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry and the effect of phosphate limitation.

PMID 24787987


Oceanic dissolved organic matter (DOM) is an assemblage of reduced carbon compounds, which results from biotic and abiotic processes. The biotic processes consist in either release or uptake of specific molecules by marine organisms. Heterotrophic bacteria have been mostly considered to influence the DOM composition by preferential uptake of certain compounds. However, they also secrete a variety of molecules depending on physiological state, environmental and growth conditions, but so far the full set of compounds secreted by these bacteria has never been investigated. In this study, we analyzed the exo-metabolome, metabolites secreted into the environment, of the heterotrophic marine bacterium Pseudovibrio sp. FO-BEG1 via ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry, comparing phosphate limited with phosphate surplus growth conditions. Bacteria belonging to the Pseudovibrio genus have been isolated worldwide, mainly from marine invertebrates and were described as metabolically versatile Alphaproteobacteria. We show that the exo-metabolome is unexpectedly large and diverse, consisting of hundreds of compounds that differ by their molecular formulae. It is characterized by a dynamic recycling of molecules, and it is drastically affected by the physiological state of the strain. Moreover, we show that phosphate limitation greatly influences both the amount and the composition of the secreted molecules. By assigning the detected masses to general chemical categories, we observed that under phosphate surplus conditions the secreted molecules were mainly peptides and highly unsaturated compounds. In contrast, under phosphate limitation the composition of the exo-metabolome changed during bacterial growth, showing an increase in highly unsaturated, phenolic, and polyphenolic compounds. Finally, we annotated the detected masses using multiple metabolite databases. These analyses suggested the presence of several masses analogue to masses of known bioactive compounds. However, the annotation was successful only for a minor part of the detected molecules, underlining the current gap in knowledge concerning the biosynthetic ability of marine heterotrophic bacteria.