A Bryozoan's Medical Endosymbiont

The spiral-tufted bryozoan (Bugula neritina) is being studied for a potential Alzheimer's disease and cancer drug -- but it's not the bryozoan that makes the chemical. The chemical, found in the bryozoan's tissues, is produced by its bacterial endosymbiont, Candidatus Endobugula sertula. In exchange for a protective home in the bryozoan's tissues, the bacteria produces a chemical called a bryostatin that makes the bryozoan larvae taste bad to predators.

Read more about drugs from the sea in this interview with Shirley Pomponi, medical sponge hunter.

Reference: Sharp KH, SK Davidson, and MG Haywood. 2007. Localization of ‘Candidatus Endobugula sertula’ and the bryostatins throughout the life cycle of the bryozoan Bugula neritina. The ISME Journal 1, 693–702.