This new species of Streptomyces was isolated in 2013 from the domatia (nest) of the Kenyan plant ant Tetraponera penzigi. It contains at least 45 secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters, the vast majority of which are predicted to encode novel products. It also makes the formicamycins, which are potent against MRSA and have a high natural barrier to resistance.
Browse the S. formicae genome and antiSMASH output via the ActinoBase MORF Genome Browser.
Figure 1. Streptomyces formicae is best known for producing formicamycins but in fact the for biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) encodes the biosynthesis of three groups of polyketides, the fasamycins, formicamycins and formicapyridines.
Devine R, McDonald H, Qin Z, Arnold C, Noble K, Chandra G, Wilkinson B, Hutchings MI (2021). Rewiring the regulation of the formicamycin biosynthetic gene cluster to enable the development of promising new antibacterial compounds. Cell Chem Biol. 28:1-9.
Qin Z, Devine R, Booth TJ, Farrar EHE, Grayson MN, Hutchings MI* and Wilkinson B* (2020). Formicamycin biosynthesis involves a unique reductive ring contraction. Chem Sci 11:8125-8131.
Qin Z, Devine R, Wilkinson KA, Hutchings MI* and Wilkinson B* (2019). Aromatic polyketide biosynthesis: fidelity, evolution and engineering. Nature Comms. 10:3611.
Holmes NA, Devine R, Qin Z, Seipke RF, Wilkinson B*, Hutchings MI* (2018). Complete genome sequence of Streptomyces formicae KY5, the formicamycin producer. J Biotechnol. 265:116-118. Abstract
Qin Z, Munnoch JT, Devine R, Holmes NA, Seipke RF, Wilkinson KA, Wilkinson B*, Hutchings MI* (2017). Formicamycins, antibacterial polyketides produced by Streptomyces formicae isolated from African Tetraponera plant-ants. Chem Sci. 8:3218-3227.
Seipke R.F., Barke J., Heavens D., Yu D.W. and Hutchings M.I. (2013). Analysis of the bacterial communities associated with two ant-plant symbioses. Microbiology Open. 2:276-83.