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Heterologous Expression of Selected Gene Clusters Identified in Isolated Amazonian Cyanobacterial Strain

Grant number: 17/15190-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2017
Effective date (End): November 30, 2018
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Microbiology - Applied Microbiology
Principal Investigator:Itamar Soares de Melo
Grantee:Diego Bonaldo Genuário
Supervisor: James Golden
Host Institution: Embrapa Meio-Ambiente. Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (EMBRAPA). Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (Brasil). Jaguariúna , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:14/26131-7 - Microbiome of Amazon River and its tributaries: biogeography and contribution to N2 cycle, BP.PD


Cyanobacteria are among the richest organisms on the planet in terms of biologically active secondary metabolites production. These natural products represent diverse compounds and drug leads that can be used for applications as therapeutic agents and antibiotics. However, these natural products are often produced in low amounts by these organisms, which can grow slowly, and sometimes cannot grow on agar plates or be isolated in axenic cultures. Thus, genetic engineering has emerged as a powerful tool to overcome these obstacles through the heterologous expression of biosynthetic pathway gene clusters in model organisms. However, most models failed to reproduce the requirements for cyanobacterial natural products manufacturing. Hence, the application of these modern tools on fast-growing cyanobacterial hosts seems to be the most suitable way to exploit the genetic potential of other cyanobacterial strains. Therefore, the main goal of this project is to manipulate the genetic content of one Amazonian cyanobacterial strain (Nostoc sp. CMAA 1605) through the heterologous expression of a selected biosynthetic gene cluster using as model the strains: Synechococcus elongatus PCC7942 and Nostoc sp. PCC7120 (also known as Anabaena). More than investigating the genetic and metabolic potential of this Amazonian strain, this project will aim to combine these innovative tools and the pioneering approach to propel knowledge acquisition, paving the exploration of the inexhaustible biosynthetic gene resources found in the Amazonian cyanobacterial strains. This approach and training will be very useful for consolidation of research in cyanobacteria bioprospecting and cyanobacterial genome sequencing in Environmental Microbiology Laboratory at Embrapa Environment. To our knowledge, there is no similar ongoing project in Amazonia, since most of them attained to systematic and genomic studies of cyanobacteria, without focusing on bioprospecting and genetic analysis.

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