Gene Discovery for Synthetic Biology: Exploring the Novel Natural Product Biosynthetic Capacity of Eukaryotic Microalgae

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OpenPlant PI Professor Rob Field at the John Innes Centre has published work of relevance to those working on algae and microalgae.

Gene Discovery for Synthetic Biology: Exploring the Novel Natural Product Biosynthetic Capacity of Eukaryotic Microalgae Methods in Enzymology, In Press, doi:10.1016/bs.mie.2016.03.005 E.C. O’Neill, G. Saalbach, R.A. Field

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Abstract Eukaryotic microalgae are an incredibly diverse group of organisms whose sole unifying feature is their ability to photosynthesize. They are known for producing a range of potent toxins, which can build up during harmful algal blooms causing damage to ecosystems and fisheries. Genome sequencing is lagging behind in these organisms because of their genetic complexity, but transcriptome sequencing is beginning to make up for this deficit. As more sequence data becomes available, it is apparent that eukaryotic microalgae possess a range of complex natural product biosynthesis capabilities. Some of the genes concerned are responsible for the biosynthesis of known toxins, but there are many more for which we do not know the products. Bioinformatic and analytical techniques have been developed for natural product discovery in bacteria and these approaches can be used to extract information about the products synthesized by algae. Recent analyses suggest that eukaryotic microalgae produce many complex natural products that remain to be discovered.

Image credit: microscopic-view-of-microalgae by Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn on Flick, licensed under CC-BY-NC 2.0