Metagenome – a Rich Source of Novel Biomolecules
a Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague; b Department of Natural Products, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
The finding that a vast majority of microbial species cannot be readily grown in a pure culture or has not yet been cultivated and their genetic and metabolic potentials remain unknown, caused a revolution in the microbiologists’ view of microbial world. The methodology of studying microbes has experienced a significant transformation. Metagenomics, developed over the past decade, involves isolation of DNA covering genomes of a microbial community (metagenome) directly from environmental matrices, construction of the library of metagenome fragments and sequence-based or functional screening of metagenomic clones. This allows to elucidate genomes of uncultured microorganisms, to illuminate their genetic diversity, to understand their ecological significance and to provide novel useful enzymes and biomolecules, A brief view of recent advances in metagenomic strategies is provided and examples of novel enzymes and biomolecules of potential biotechnological significance are given. In spite of a large amount of information provided by metagenomics, only a limited number of genes and enzymes are currently used in biotechnological processes. The identification of novel biocatalysts and their implementation in viable production processes is a future challenge.
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