Thousands of novel biosynthetic pathways throughout the global oceans
A new Nature paper by Paoli et al (Sunagawa Lab) describes the diversity and biogeography of microbial-derived metabolic capabilities throughout the global oceans. As little is known about the vast metabolic potential of the global ocean microbiome, the team mined metabolic pathways from ~10,000 microbial genomes recovered from > 1,000 seawater samples. From these, 40,000 biosynthetic gene clusters were found, most of them novel. They then focused on the most metabolically-diverse clade, the uncultivated phylum ‘Candidatus Eremiobacterota’. Specifically, in vitro assays and expression of two pathways revealed unusual enzymology, as well as enzyme with biotechnology potential (phospeptin and pythonamide pathways, respectively). However, these are just two products that were extensively verified from this dataset—there are thousands more that have now been made available through an interactive database (LINK). In doing so, characterizing the global ocean microbiome could lead to a wealth of useful products in a variety of industries and settings.