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      Harnessing Nature's Anaerobes for Biotechnology and Bioprocessing

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          Industrial biotechnology has the potential to decrease our reliance on petroleum for fuel and bio-based chemical production and also enable valorization of waste streams. Anaerobic microorganisms thrive in resource-limited environments and offer an array of novel bioactivities in this regard that could revolutionize biomanufacturing. However, they have not been adopted for widespread industrial use owing to their strict growth requirements, limited number of available strains, difficulty in scale-up, and genetic intractability. This review provides an overview of current and future uses for anaerobes in biotechnology and bioprocessing in the postgenomic era. We focus on the recently characterized anaerobic fungi (Neocallimastigomycota) native to the digestive tract of large herbivores, which possess a trove of enzymes, pathways, transporters, and other biomolecules that can be harnessed for numerous biotechnological applications. Resolving current genetic intractability, scale-up, and cultivation challenges will unlock the potential of these lignocellulolytic fungi and other nonmodel micro-organisms to accelerate bio-based production.

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          The green fluorescent protein.

          In just three years, the green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria has vaulted from obscurity to become one of the most widely studied and exploited proteins in biochemistry and cell biology. Its amazing ability to generate a highly visible, efficiently emitting internal fluorophore is both intrinsically fascinating and tremendously valuable. High-resolution crystal structures of GFP offer unprecedented opportunities to understand and manipulate the relation between protein structure and spectroscopic function. GFP has become well established as a marker of gene expression and protein targeting in intact cells and organisms. Mutagenesis and engineering of GFP into chimeric proteins are opening new vistas in physiological indicators, biosensors, and photochemical memories.
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            Fungal secondary metabolism - from biochemistry to genomics.

            Much of natural product chemistry concerns a group of compounds known as secondary metabolites. These low-molecular-weight metabolites often have potent physiological activities. Digitalis, morphine and quinine are plant secondary metabolites, whereas penicillin, cephalosporin, ergotrate and the statins are equally well known fungal secondary metabolites. Although chemically diverse, all secondary metabolites are produced by a few common biosynthetic pathways, often in conjunction with morphological development. Recent advances in molecular biology, bioinformatics and comparative genomics have revealed that the genes encoding specific fungal secondary metabolites are clustered and often located near telomeres. In this review, we address some important questions, including which evolutionary pressures led to gene clustering, why closely related species produce different profiles of secondary metabolites, and whether fungal genomics will accelerate the discovery of new pharmacologically active natural products.
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              Is Open Access

              Fundamentals of Microbial Community Resistance and Resilience

              Microbial communities are at the heart of all ecosystems, and yet microbial community behavior in disturbed environments remains difficult to measure and predict. Understanding the drivers of microbial community stability, including resistance (insensitivity to disturbance) and resilience (the rate of recovery after disturbance) is important for predicting community response to disturbance. Here, we provide an overview of the concepts of stability that are relevant for microbial communities. First, we highlight insights from ecology that are useful for defining and measuring stability. To determine whether general disturbance responses exist for microbial communities, we next examine representative studies from the literature that investigated community responses to press (long-term) and pulse (short-term) disturbances in a variety of habitats. Then we discuss the biological features of individual microorganisms, of microbial populations, and of microbial communities that may govern overall community stability. We conclude with thoughts about the unique insights that systems perspectives – informed by meta-omics data – may provide about microbial community stability.

                Author and article information

                Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
                Annu. Rev. Chem. Biomol. Eng.
                Annual Reviews
                June 07 2019
                June 07 2019
                : 10
                : 1
                : 105-128
                [1 ]Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA;, , , , ,
                © 2019


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