The Roseobacter group is a widespread marine bacterial group, of which some species produce the broad-spectrum antibiotic tropodithietic acid (TDA). A mode of action for TDA has previously been proposed in Escherichia coli, but little is known about its effect on non-producing marine bacteria at in situ concentrations. The purpose of this study was to investigate how a sub-lethal level of TDA affects Vibrio vulnificus at different time points (30 min and 60 min) using a transcriptomic approach. Exposure to TDA for as little as 30 min resulted in the differential expression of genes associated with cell regeneration, including the up-regulation of those involved in biogenesis of the cell envelope. Defense mechanisms including oxidative stress defense proteins and iron uptake systems were also up-regulated in response to TDA, while motility-related genes were down-regulated. Gene expression data and scanning electron microscopy imaging revealed a switch to a biofilm phenotype in the presence of TDA. Our study shows that a low concentration of this antibiotic triggers a defense response to reactive oxygen species and iron depletion in V. vulnificus, which indicates that the mode of action of TDA is likely more complex in this bacterium than what is known for E. coli. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.