The great screen anomaly-a new frontier in product discovery through functional metagenomics

David Matthias Ekkers, Mariana Silvia Cretoiu*, Anna Maria Kielak, Jan Dirk van Elsas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Functional metagenomics, the study of the collective genome of a microbial community by expressing it in a foreign host, is an emerging field in biotechnology. Over the past years, the possibility of novel product discovery through metagenomics has developed rapidly. Thus, metagenomics has been heralded as a promising mining strategy of resources for the biotechnological and pharmaceutical industry. However, in spite of innovative work in the field of functional genomics in recent years, yields from function-based metagenomics studies still fall short of producing significant amounts of new products that are valuable for biotechnological processes. Thus, a new set of strategies is required with respect to fostering gene expression in comparison to the traditional work. These new strategies should address a major issue, that is, how to successfully express a set of unknown genes of unknown origin in a foreign host in high throughput. This article is an opinionating review of functional metagenomic screening of natural microbial communities, with a focus on the optimization of new product discovery. It first summarizes current major bottlenecks in functional metagenomics and then provides an overview of the general metagenomic assessment strategies, with a focus on the challenges that are met in the screening for, and selection of, target genes in metagenomic libraries. To identify possible screening limitations, strategies to achieve optimal gene expression are reviewed, examining the molecular events all the way from the transcription level through to the secretion of the target gene product.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1020
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Volume93
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2012

Keywords

  • Metagenomics
  • Functional screening
  • Natural product discovery
  • Gene expression
  • MULTIPLE DISPLACEMENT AMPLIFICATION
  • ESCHERICHIA-COLI
  • MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES
  • EXPRESSION CLONING
  • NATURAL-PRODUCTS
  • BIOTECHNOLOGICAL PROSPECTS
  • UNCULTURED MICROORGANISMS
  • ENVIRONMENTAL LIBRARIES
  • DIRECTED EVOLUTION
  • NONOPTIMAL CODONS

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