Centre for Geobiology

Mining of a Norwegian biogoldmine through metagenomics

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Project name: Mining of a Norwegian biogoldmine through metagenomics

Project coordinator: Ida Helene Steen

Funding: NFR Project 08491/010

Principal investigator: 

Other researchers involved: 

Project period: 03.2001 - 02.2014

About the project:

The future need of new and novel biocatalysts for application in white biotechnology will boost the market for industrial enzymes. Biocatalysts produced by microorganisms living in extreme habitats, hostile for human life with elevated temperatures (up to 120°C), high pressure in the deep sea (up to 1000 bar), pH extremes (0-12) and toxic chemical environments are well recognized for their industrial application. The unique discoveries performed at Centre for Geobiology (CGB) of deep sea hydrothermal vents located in Norwegian territorial waters along the Arctic mid-Ocean Ridge (AMOR) has the potential to substantially impact Norwegian industrial production. Over the past three years, we have sampled, characterized the microbial diversity and sequenced metagenomes of microbial communities situated on hydrothermal vent chimneys emitting fluids of 317°C at Loki’s Castle located at 73°30’N at 2400 m depth. These habitats provide an untapped reservoir of genetic resources. In this proposed project we intend to exploit this reservoir by 1) In collaboration with Nofima Ingrediens (Nofima) develop enzyme cocktails for degradation and transformation of fish waste to new and novel products; 2) identify biocatalysts complementary and possibly superior to well known-industrial enzymes; 3) reveal the metabolisms of enriched oil-degrading microorganisms in samples collected from “Loki’s Castle”. The objects will be fulfilled by use of cutting edge metagenomics of natural samples as well as In situ stimulated communities, In silico modeling of biocatalysts, cloning, expression and characterization of target enzymes. We have access to large scale facilities for production of enzymes. The effects of new enzymes on production processes and product properties will be evaluated in specialized laboratories and pilot production plants available at Nofima. Potential commercial will be evaluated using the University of Bergen’s technology transfer infrastructure in collaboration with BTO.

Project's main Objectives:

Primary objective:

The primary objective is to exploit the untapped genetic reservoir in the extreme environments in deep sea hydrothermal vent systems located at the Arctic Mid-Ocean ridge (AMOR).

Secondary objectives:

1. Reveal new and novel biocatalysts in metagenomes from AMOR using tools for storage, analysis, visualization and management of the metagenomic data generated developed trough the proposed METApipe-project and In silico modeling of enzymes.

2. Perform In situ enrichments and targeted metagenomics of microbial communities at AMOR involved in the degradation and alteration of biomass from the fish waste

3. Characterize enrichments of oil-degrading microorganisms collected from “Loki’s Castle” and reveal their physiology using metagenomics

4. Evaluate yield potential, purify enzymes, and characterize biocatalytic properties for industrial application

5. Crystallization of specific targets

6 .Develop commercialization strategies of identified targets