Supercritical Fluid Extraction Enhances Discovery of Secondary Metabolites from Myxobacteria

Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) is widely used for the isolation of natural products from plants, but its application in efforts to identify structurally and physicochemically often dissimilar microbial natural products is limited to date. In this study we evaluated the impact of SFE on the extractability of myxobacterial secondary metabolites aiming to improve the prospects of discovering novel natural products. We investigated the influence of different co-solvents on the extraction efficiency of secondary metabolites from three myxobacterial strains as well as the antimicrobial activity profiles of the corresponding extracts. For each known secondary metabolite we found extraction conditions using SFE leading to superior yields in the extracts compared to conventional solvent extraction. Compounds with a logP higher than 3 showed best extraction efficiency using 20% EtOAc as a co-solvent, whereas compounds with logP values lower than 3 were better extractable using more polar co-solvents like MeOH. Extracts generated with SFE showed increased antimicrobial activities including the presence of activities not explained by known myxobacterial secondary metabolites, highlighting the advantage of SFE for bioactivity-guided isolation. Moreover, non-targeted metabolomics analysis revealed a group of chlorinated metabolites produced by the well-studied model myxobacterium Myxococcus xanthus DK1622 which were not accessible previously due to their low concentration in conventional extracts. The enriched SF extracts were used for isolation and subsequent structure elucidation of chloroxanthic acid A as founding member of a novel secondary metabolite family. Our findings encourage the increased utilization of SFE as part of future microbial natural products screening workflows.