Genomics- and Metabolomics-Based Investigation of the Deep-Sea Sediment-Derived Yeast, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa 50-3-19/20B

Red yeasts of the genus Rhodotorula are of great interest to the biotechnological industry due to their ability to produce valuable natural products, such as lipids and carotenoids with potential applications as surfactants, food additives, and pharmaceuticals. Herein, we explored the biosynthetic potential of R. mucilaginosa 50-3-19/20B collected from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge using modern genomics and untargeted metabolomics tools. R. mucilaginosa 50-3-19/20B exhibited anticancer activity when grown on PDA medium, while antimicrobial activity was observed when cultured on WSP-30 medium. Applying the bioactive molecular networking approach, the anticancer activity was linked to glycolipids, namely polyol esters of fatty acid (PEFA) derivatives. We purified four PEFAs (1-4) and the known methyl-2-hydroxy-3-(1H-indol-2-yl)propanoate (5). Their structures were deduced from NMR and HR-MS/MS spectra, but 1-5 showed no anticancer activity in their pure form. Illumina-based genome sequencing, de novo assembly and standard biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) analyses were used to illustrate key components of the PEFA biosynthetic pathway. The fatty acid producing BGC3 was identified to be capable of producing precursors of PEFAs. Some Rhodotorula strains are able to convert inulin into high-yielding PEFA and cell lipid using a native exo-inulinase enzyme. The genomic locus for an exo-inulinase enzyme (g1629.t1), which plays an instrumental role in the PEFA production via the mannitol biosynthesis pathway was identified. This is the first untargeted metabolomics study on R. mucilaginosa providing new genomic insights into PEFA biosynthesis.

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