CUBE is part of new research platform MetaBac


The research platform "Secondary Metabolomes of Bacterial Communities (MetaBac)”, linking the research groups of Sergey Zotchev, Martion Zehl, Alex Loy and Thomas Rattei from CUBE, has been selected for funding by the University of Vienna. 

Many bacterial species produce secondary metabolites that are not essential for their growth but provide advantages in environmental adaptation, e.g. by serving as signalling molecules that mediate interspecies interactions. Most of the studied bacterial secondary metabolites have biological activity and some have been developed into drugs, such as antibiotics and anticancer agents. Advances in bacterial genomics, metagenomics, and analyses of the secondary metabolite biosynthesis pathways revealed huge potential of certain species to produce compounds that could never be revealed in the laboratory-based cultivation of single isolates. Genes for the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites are organized in clusters (BGCs), most of which are “silent” under laboratory conditions, and environmental signals triggering their expression remain largely unknown. Recent studies demonstrate that co-cultivation of bacteria stimulates production of novel secondary metabolites never before detected in the monocultures. Furthermore, members of bacterial phyla abundant in the environment but underrepresented by isolated strains harbour many novel BGCs. In MetaBac, we will use microbiota of a fresh-water bryozoan shown to harbour bacterial species capable of producing secondary metabolites.

MetaBac will:

  1. analyze metagenomes, metatranscriptomes and metabolomes of the bryozoan and its habitat;
  2. establish monocultures and defined, simplified communities of the bacteria found in the bryozoan and its habitat
  3. study the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites by defined communities and co-cultures
  4. identify and characterize produced secondary metabolites.