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Researchers discover a new family of marine bacteria with great potential to synthesize new natural products

Researchers discover a new family of marine bacteria with great potential to synthesize new natural products

A total of 1,038 publicly available ocean microbial community genomes (metanemes) were collected from 215 globally distributed locations. Credit: GEBCO, NOAA, CHS, OSU, UNH, CSUMB, National Geographic, DeLorme, NAVTEQ, and Esri (map tiles)

A new study by researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) in collaboration with experts from the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC), published in the journal Naturehas revealed the existence of a new family of marine bacteria whose genetic capacity, due to the sheer number of biosynthetic gene clusters in their genomes (BGCs), could lead to numerous biotech applications.

The family belongs to the phylum Eremiobacterota and until now it was thought to exist only in terrestrial environments. However, according to the work published now, these bacteria are also found in the ocean. “Not only are these bacteria part of a very diverse bacterial group from a biosynthetic point of view, but they are ubiquitous and abundantly distributed throughout the ocean water column,” explains Shinichi Sunagawa, professor at ETH Zurich and head of the team that led the study. †

Lucas Paoli, researcher at ETH Zurich and lead author of the study, emphasizes that “some species of the family can represent up to 6% of all bacteria in specific parts of the ocean, which is equivalent to several million organisms per liter of seawater.”

This has been revealed through analysis of more than 1,000 water samples collected during the Tara Oceans expedition. In total, the research team identified more than 7,000 families of biosynthetic gene clusters — most of which were previously unknown — that could be used to synthesize biochemical compounds and improve biotechnological processes, among other things.

“These results highlight the lack of knowledge we have about microscopic life in the ocean. Only in recent years, thanks to various ocean circumnavigation campaigns and the use of new molecular methods, have we begun to know which organisms, which genes and which biotechnological potential are hidden under the skin of the ocean,” reveals ICM-CSIC researcher Josep M. Gasol, who participated in the study.

Finally, ICM-CSIC researcher Silvia G Acinas, a member of the team coordinating the Tara Oceans campaign, points out that “thanks to the integration of thousands of microbial genomes from different expeditions, it was possible to study which microorganisms great genetic potential that will serve to explore new bioactive molecules.”

According to the researcher, “Some of them could be used in new therapies, while others could help improve certain biotechnological processes, and by extension, our quality of life in the future.”

Micro-organisms, a surprise for the industry

Microbes, especially bacteria, are metabolically very diverse and found in abundance in every corner of nature. However, the vast majority have not yet been cultured or studied in the lab, making their metabolic diversity unknown.

In the absence of cultures, scientific teams have resorted to microbiome sequencing, ie sequencing all the DNA in the microbial communities of these marine samples in order to reconstruct the genomes of these microorganisms through bioinformatics analysis.

“For example, we have been able to reconstruct 25,000 genomes of marine microorganisms, which together with another 10,000 genomes that already existed before, form the largest database of these communities worldwide,” explains ICM-CSIC researcher Pablo Sánchez.

Future research will focus on the distribution and function of marine microorganisms, as they can play a crucial role in the evolution and adaptation of the ocean to the changes undergoing the biosphere.

Tapping into the ocean as a source of natural products

More information:
Lucas Paoli et al, Biosynthetic potential of the global ocean microbiome, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-O22-04862-3

Provided by Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC)

Quote: Researchers discover a new family of marine bacteria with great potential to synthesize new natural products (2022, June 27) retrieved June 27, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-family-marine-bacteria -great- potential.html

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