Discovering novel natural products that can serve as drugs or drug leads is of critical importance to human health. Our recent work has identified that bacterial symbionts of insects represents a rich, diverse, and largely untapped source of novel compounds. This ICBG focuses on identifying novel natural products from symbiotic bacteria associated with fungus-growing ants and other social insects in Brazil. We will also determine their potential to treat fungal pathogens, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and cancer of the blood. In AP3, we will contribute to the overall goals of this ICBG in a number of ways. Working closely with AP1, we will conduct intensive sampling of bacterial symbionts from insects collected from a range of biomes in Brazil. Strains will be catalogue and their 16S rRNA sequenced. Using multilocus sequence typing, we will examine the diversity and host specificity of strains. For 500 strains per year identified to be of highest interest, we will determine both their secondary metabolite potential as well as the ecological context associated with their ability to produce natural products. To do this, we will perform ecological assays between bacterial symbionts and fungal antagonists associate with their insect host, conduct genomic sequencing and analyses, and do in vivo imaging mass spectrometry. Finally, we will provide training to young biologists in fieldwork on bacterial symbionts of insects, tropical microbial ecology, and bioinformatics. Training will include hosting Brazilian students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as training students from US labs on conducting field research in Brazil.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
Research Program--Cooperative Agreements (U19)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BCMB-H (50))
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Harvard Medical School
United States
Zip Code
Paludo, Camila R; Menezes, Cristiano; Silva-Junior, Eduardo A et al. (2018) Stingless Bee Larvae Require Fungal Steroid to Pupate. Sci Rep 8:1122
Van Arnam, Ethan B; Currie, Cameron R; Clardy, Jon (2018) Defense contracts: molecular protection in insect-microbe symbioses. Chem Soc Rev 47:1638-1651
Silva-Junior, Eduardo A; Ruzzini, Antonio C; Paludo, Camila R et al. (2018) Pyrazines from bacteria and ants: convergent chemistry within an ecological niche. Sci Rep 8:2595
Li, Hongjie; Sosa-Calvo, Jeffrey; Horn, Heidi A et al. (2018) Convergent evolution of complex structures for ant-bacterial defensive symbiosis in fungus-farming ants. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:10720-10725
Ortega, Humberto E; Batista Jr, João M; Melo, Weilan G P et al. (2017) Absolute Configurations of Griseorhodins A and C. Tetrahedron Lett 58:4721-4723
Ramadhar, Timothy R; Zheng, Shao-Liang; Chen, Yu-Sheng et al. (2017) The Crystalline Sponge Method: A Solvent-Based Strategy to Facilitate Noncovalent Ordered Trapping of Solid and Liquid Organic Compounds. CrystEngComm 19:4528-4534
Gemperline, Erin; Horn, Heidi A; DeLaney, Kellen et al. (2017) Imaging with Mass Spectrometry of Bacteria on the Exoskeleton of Fungus-Growing Ants. ACS Chem Biol 12:1980-1985
Wyche, Thomas P; Ruzzini, Antonio C; Schwab, Laura et al. (2017) Tryptorubin A: A Polycyclic Peptide from a Fungus-Derived Streptomycete. J Am Chem Soc 139:12899-12902
Adnani, Navid; Rajski, Scott R; Bugni, Tim S (2017) Symbiosis-inspired approaches to antibiotic discovery. Nat Prod Rep 34:784-814
Lewin, Gina R; Carlos, Camila; Chevrette, Marc G et al. (2016) Evolution and Ecology of Actinobacteria and Their Bioenergy Applications. Annu Rev Microbiol 70:235-54

Showing the most recent 10 out of 17 publications