Marine Biology Seminar: Dr. Eric Schmidt (University of Utah)
How Mollusks Make Molecules: Chemical Ecology of Some Gastropods
Abstract: Marine gastropod mollusks contain many complex chemicals that are used for communication, defense, offense and other purposes. These compounds are thought to come from the diet, or in some cases they are made de novo, but little is known about the genetic origin of the compounds. The origins and biosyntheses of metabolites in two very different gastropod groups – shipworms and sacoglossans – will be described. While in shipworms complex metabolites are made by an elaborate suite of symbiotic bacteria, in sacoglossans de novo metabolites are made by the animals themselves. In the latter group, a widespread family of newly discovered enzymes likely leads to the reported chemical diversity in mollusks. The resulting impacts on animal biology will be described.