Unlocking the biosynthetic potential and taxonomy of the Antarctic microbiome along temporal and spatial gradients


Microbiol Spectr. 2024 May 15:e0024424. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.00244-24. Online ahead of print.


Extreme environments, such as Antarctica, select microbial communities that display a range of evolutionary strategies to survive and thrive under harsh environmental conditions. These include a diversity of specialized metabolites, which have the potential to be a source for new natural product discovery. Efforts using (meta)genome mining approaches to identify and understand biosynthetic gene clusters in Antarctica are still scarce, and the extent of their diversity and distribution patterns in the environment have yet to be discovered. Herein, we investigated the biosynthetic gene diversity of the biofilm microbial community of Whalers Bay, Deception Island, in the Antarctic Peninsula and revealed its distribution patterns along spatial and temporal gradients by applying metagenome mining approaches and multivariable analysis. The results showed that the Whalers Bay microbial community harbors a great diversity of biosynthetic gene clusters distributed into seven classes, with terpene being the most abundant. The phyla Proteobacteria and Bacteroidota were the most abundant in the microbial community and contributed significantly to the biosynthetic gene abundances in Whalers Bay. Furthermore, the results highlighted a significant correlation between the distribution of biosynthetic genes and taxonomic diversity, emphasizing the intricate interplay between microbial taxonomy and their potential for specialized metabolite production.IMPORTANCEThis research on antarctic microbial biosynthetic diversity in Whalers Bay, Deception Island, unveils the hidden potential of extreme environments for natural product discovery. By employing metagenomic techniques, the research highlights the extensive diversity of biosynthetic gene clusters and identifies key microbial phyla, Proteobacteria and Bacteroidota, as significant contributors. The correlation between taxonomic diversity and biosynthetic gene distribution underscores the intricate interplay governing specialized metabolite production. These findings are crucial for understanding microbial adaptation in extreme environments and hold significant implications for bioprospecting initiatives. The study opens avenues for discovering novel bioactive compounds with potential applications in medicine and industry, emphasizing the importance of preserving and exploring these polyextreme ecosystems to advance biotechnological and pharmaceutical research.

PMID:38747631 | DOI:10.1128/spectrum.00244-24