Biosynthetic potential of uncultured Antarctic soil bacteria revealed through long-read metagenomic sequencing

The growing problem of antibiotic resistance has led to the exploration of uncultured bacteria as potential sources of new antimicrobials. PCR amplicon analyses and short-read sequencing studies of samples from different environments have reported evidence of high biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) diversity in metagenomes, indicating their potential for producing novel and useful compounds. However, recovering full-length BGC sequences from uncultivated bacteria remains a challenge due to the technological restraints of short-read sequencing, thus making assessment of BGC diversity difficult. Here, long-read sequencing and genome mining were used to recover >1400 mostly full-length BGCs that demonstrate the rich diversity of BGCs from uncultivated lineages present in soil from Mars Oasis, Antarctica. A large number of highly divergent BGCs were not only found in the phyla Acidobacteriota, Verrucomicrobiota and Gemmatimonadota but also in the actinobacterial classes Acidimicrobiia and Thermoleophilia and the gammaproteobacterial order UBA7966. The latter furthermore contained a potential novel family of RiPPs. Our findings underline the biosynthetic potential of underexplored phyla as well as unexplored lineages within seemingly well-studied producer phyla. They also showcase long-read metagenomic sequencing as a promising way to access the untapped genetic reservoir of specialised metabolite gene clusters of the uncultured majority of microbes.


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Authors: Waschulin, Valentin, Borsetto, Chiara, James, Robert, Newsham, Kevin K. ORCIDORCID record for Kevin K. Newsham, Donadio, Stefano, Corre, Christophe, Wellington, Elizabeth

On this site: Kevin Newsham
1 January, 2022
ISME Journal / 16
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