Chapter 11 : Cultivation of Marine Symbiotic Microorganisms

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This chapter describes the concept of symbiosis in a broad sense. It talks about criteria and methods to demonstrate that an organism is symbiotic, and presents general strategies for the cultivation of marine symbiotic microorganisms. Symbiotic microorganisms do not fit easily into Koch’s postulates because the resulting observable fitness of the host is usually less obvious than acute disease. Cultivation of symbiotic microbes that produce medically relevant secondary metabolites might also allow the production of these metabolites by sustainable and economical fermentative technologies as opposed to collection of marine organisms from the environment. Knowledge that soil contains large amounts of humic substrates leads to increased cultivation of soil microorganisms. Addition of cAMP and acyl-homoserine lactone signaling molecules known to be present in some cells growing as colonies, improves the cultivation of marine bacteria. A first approach for the cultivation of aerobic heterotrophic marine symbionts is to use one-half strength Marine Broth 2216 supplemented with one-half strength natural or artificial sea-water, with 1.5% agar added when required. The critical factors of this approach are (i) surface sterilization and aseptic dissection and handling of symbiotic tissue to remove transient and/or opportunistic symbionts, (ii) dilution and plating to extinction to eliminate competition and or antagonism among strains, and (iii) patience and close examination for colonies and microcolonies that grow on the plates. The ability to cultivate marine symbiotic microorganisms is a great advantage for the study of the symbiotic microorganism and the natural products it might produce.

Citation: Ciche T. 2008. Cultivation of Marine Symbiotic Microorganisms, p 193-204. In Zengler K (ed), Accessing Uncultivated Microorganisms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815509.ch11

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Examples of marine microbial symbioses

Citation: Ciche T. 2008. Cultivation of Marine Symbiotic Microorganisms, p 193-204. In Zengler K (ed), Accessing Uncultivated Microorganisms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815509.ch11

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