The overall objective of the research project is the development and application of a new molecular strategy to turn the hidden biodiversity of marine bacteria into novel biotechnological products. This strategy is based on an integrated molecular approach using bacterial DNA and RNA obtained directly from the marine environment to circumvent the need for cultivation since only a very small fraction, usually less than 1%, of the marine bacteria can be cultured. The molecular approaches used are gene cloning and expression of marine bacterial genes, estimation of the structure of bacterial communities that carry the genes in situ, and molecular characterization of bacterial isolates. This integrated approach will be applied to a set of diverse marine habitats to obtain information about i) the diversity of microbial genes in marine habitats and their carrying bacteria, and ii) the expression systems necessary to make the genetic information available for biotechnological products such as enzymes and antibiotics. The diversity of the microbial community will be determined with rapid molecular profiling techniques (5S rRNA analysis and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rDNA) that are able to give an quantitative overview about the abundant species in the community. A set of different cloning vector will be used to generate polygenomic clone libraries directly from the marine habitat.
Expression of these genes will be attempted by different expression vectors followed by automated activity measurements in an industrial high-through-put unit. These activity determinations and molecular analysis in combination with microbiological and biotechnological studies will result in: i) commercial products, i. e. a variety of novel psychrophilic and mesophilic enzymes, and ii) development of an intelligent strategy for the assessment of microbial diversity in any natural environment and its biotechnological potential, i. e. how and where to look with what molecular approaches for which products.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts