Mining Biodiversity within Marine sponges for Bioactive compounds


Lisa Crossman (UEA,, Matt Hutchings (UEA), Merv Bibb (JIC),  Jonathan Kennedy (UCC), Alan Dobson (UCC)

Background and Aims

The order Actinomycetales is a known source of novel bioactive compounds. An original belief that these organisms were restricted to terrestrial niches was recently discarded (Martinez et al., 2013).  Marine sponges harbour a wealth of bacteria, many of which produce secondary metabolites (Kennedy et al., 2009).  Previous estimates indicate that the marine environment contains as many as 3.67 x 1030 microbes, representing a large untapped resource of microbial diversity.  A set of 14 strains isolated from marine sponges from the group of Jonathan Kennedy and Alan Dobson (University of Cork, Ireland) have been chosen for Illumina paired-end sequencing.

Examining the diversity of marine samples can indicate the potential for future studies on bioactive secondary metabolites from a marine source. Data mining approaches will result in genomic samples for a biodiversity survey.  This survey will lay the groundwork for future high throughput sequencing studies in this area.

ELSA Project

High levels of biodiversity existing within novel niches such as within sponges may represent high diversity within Actinomycete genomes. It is an exciting challenge to future-proof and upscale for the identification of potential gene clusters of interest to provide sequencing data for downstream analysis.

Building on previously generated data for investigations on the biodiversity of polyketide synthase (PKS) and non-ribosomal peptide synthases (NRPS) from Streptomyces species we aim to categorise the diversity of these genes.


A. Lissodendoryx diversichela


B. Sample collection via Robot arm

Earlham institute
Quadram Institute Bioscience
John Innes Centre
The Sainsbury Laboratory
University of East Anglia

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