Work Package 1: Novel marine Bioresources and Genome Scanning

WP1 will involve the isolation and characterisation of novel microbial strains which will be isolated from cold and deep sea and hot vent environments. To facilitate this, a new transportable, deep water fibre rope deployment and recovery system will be constructed and used which will allow sampling down to full ocean depths. The newly isolated microorganisms will be cultured from these diverse marine environments and rapidly genetically typed to select microorganisms suitable for screening. Over 20,000 extracts will be generated from different microbial and fungal cultures and these will be employed in various screening strategies to identify novel bioactivities in WP2.

In addition, bioinformatics-based approaches will be employed to analyse a large number of sequenced genomes of previously isolated Arctic and Antarctic strains that are known to produce antibiotics. These genomes, together with the genomes of isolates which show activities in screens from WP2, will be analysed for candidate biosynthetic gene clusters encoding polyketide synthases, non-ribosomal peptide synthases, isoprenoids and post-translationally modified ribosomal peptides.

Metagenomic approaches will also be employed to exploit the uncultivable fraction from the targeted environmental samples, with a number of different heterologous host systems including Bacillus sp., different Streptomyces sp., Pseudomonas sp. and Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktis being developed as additional bacterial host systems. This will allow the screening of these metagenomic DNA samples for the biosynthesis of small bioactive molecules.

Finally one of the main deliverables from this workpackage will be the creation of a “Biologically Active” species library and a sample library which will be conserved via cryopreservation. Together with the extract and compound libraries which will be generated, this will be available through trans-European collaborations to European companies.

WP leader: University College Cork, Alan Dobson