Author(s): de Pascale D, De Santi C, Fu J, Landfald B
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Abstract The term bioprospecting has been adopted for systematic searches in nature for new bioactive compounds, genes, proteins, microorganisms and other products with potential for commercial use. Much effort has been focused on microorganisms able to thrive under harsh conditions, including the Polar environments. Both the lipid and protein cellular building blocks of Polar microorganisms are shaped by their adaptation to the permanently low temperatures. In addition, strongly differing environments, such as permafrost, glaciers and sea ice, have contributed to additional functional diversity. Emerging massive-parallel sequencing technologies have revealed the existence of a huge, hitherto unseen diversity of low-abundance phylotypes--the rare biosphere--even in the Polar environments. This realization has further strengthened the need to employ cultivation-independent approaches, including metagenomics and single-cell genomic sequencing, to get comprehensive access to the genetic diversity of microbial communities for bioprospecting purposes. In this review, we present an updated snapshot of recent findings on the molecular basis for adaptation to the cold and the phylogenetic diversities of different Polar environments. Novel approaches in bioprospecting are presented and we conclude by showing recent bioprospecting outcomes in terms of new molecules patented or applied by some biotech companies. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Mar Genomics
and referenced in Cloning & Transgenesis