Molecules made by nature, or natural products, inspire the majority of currently approved small molecules for use in medicine. With an increase in widespread antibiotic resistance and the perpetual search for anticancer drugs, new sources of natural products must be discovered. The marine environment is a proven, prolific source of novel bioactive molecules and much of the ocean remains chemically and genetically unexplored. The mesophotic zone is particularly neglected because of the technological difficulty of reaching this twilight zone of the ocean. Shallow water marine sponges have been well documented to have diverse microbial populations and impressive chemical repertoires. Mesophotic sponges, however, are relatively unstudied in terms of their natural product potential. This project aims to take a deep dive into the metagenomes of mesophotic sponges for their natural product potential. Hybrid sequencing and assembly of metagenomes of eight prioritized sponges will uncover new biosynthetic gene clusters for heterologous expression and chemical elucidation. This study will combine large data analyses, cutting edge molecular and synthetic biology approaches and bioinformatic techniques to survey the natural product potential of mesophotic sponges and discover new molecules with medicinal potential.
|Effective start/end date||1/05/20 → 30/04/22|