Isolation and structural characterisation of two antibacterial free fatty acids from the marine diatom, Phaeodactylum tricornutum

Andrew P. Desbois, Tomas Lebl, Liming Yan, Valerie J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

One solution to the global crisis of antibiotic resistance is the discovery of novel antimicrobial compounds for clinical application. Marine organisms are an attractive and, as yet, relatively untapped resource of new natural products. Cell extracts from the marine diatom, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, have antibacterial activity and the fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), has been identified as one compound responsible for this activity. During the isolation of EPA, it became apparent that the extracts contained further antibacterial compounds. The present study was undertaken to isolate these additional antibacterial factors using silica column chromatography and reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Two antibacterial fractions, each containing a pure compound, were isolated and their chemical structures were investigated by mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The antibacterial compounds were identified as the monounsaturated fatty acid (9Z)-hexadecenoic acid (palmitoleic acid; C16:1 n-7) and the relatively unusual polyunsaturated fatty acid (6Z, 9Z, 12Z)-hexadecatrienoic acid (HTA; C16:3 n-4). Both are active against Gram-positive bacteria with HTA further inhibitory to the growth of the Gram-negative marine pathogen, Listonella anguillarum. Palmitoleic acid is active at micro-molar concentrations, kills bacteria rapidly, and is highly active against multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. These free fatty acids warrant further investigation as a new potential therapy for drug-resistant infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-764
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Volume81
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

Keywords

  • Antimicrobial
  • (6Z
  • 9Z
  • 12Z)-hexadecatrienoic acid
  • Palmitoleic acid
  • Micro-alga
  • Phaeodactylum tricornutum
  • MRSA
  • NATURAL-PRODUCTS
  • THALASSIOSIRA-ROTULA
  • DIALYSIS CULTURE
  • MONOGLYCERIDES
  • LIPIDS
  • IDENTIFICATION
  • STAPHYLOCOCCI
  • INACTIVATION
  • METABOLITES
  • MICROALGAE

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