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FRIBIO-Biologi og biomedisin

Functional Metagenomics to Study Prokaryotes from Arctic/ Sub-Arctic Springs of Hydrothermal Origin

Awarded: NOK 4.3 mill.

The majority, in fact >99 % of the microorganisms on this planet have not yet been cultured in the laboratory and therefore have remained mostly uncharacterized and also unexploited for biotechnological purposes. Recent advancements in genomic technologie s, so called metagenomics, now allow to study the genomic content of bacteria and archaea without the need of cultivation. We propose a metagenomic study on prokaryotes from high temperature environments (hyperthermophiles) of the arctic and subarctic. F or this purpose we will take samples from hot springs at Svalbard (sub-permafrost) and from terrestrial volcanic springs of Kamchatka and Iceland (in collaboration with Russian and Iclendic scientists). We will isolate high molecular weight DNA from these samples and will construct large-insert DNA libraries with techniques that we have developed (and patented) earlier. We will use these metagenomic libraries to screen for genome fragments of unknown species from archaea and bacteria using phylogenetic ma rker genes. Sequence analyses of those large genome fragments (of ca. 40 kb) will allow to uncover genes that give hints to the physiological potential and to adaptive features of as yet unknown extremophiles, thereby linking this information to the phylo genetic affiliation of the respective organisms. The Icelandic partner will screen metagenomic libraries for enzymes potentially useful in biotechnological applications, because they are adapated to high and/or fluctuating temperatures. The interdiscipli nary project involves the collaboration from 3 microbiological groups at the University of Bergen with geologists as well as bioinformaticians of the FUGE platform (functional genomics) CBU (computational biology platform at Univ. of Bergen) and Icelandic and Russian specialists of hyperthermophiles.

Funding scheme:

FRIBIO-Biologi og biomedisin

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