Project code: 222625
Contract period: 01.05.2009
Budget: 6,000,000 Euro
Purpose of research: Basic research
This proposal will (further) develop and apply metagenomics tools to access the enzymatic potential borne in the cryptic biota of selected natural habitats, in particular target soil-related and aquatic ones. In the light of the environmental relevance of chitins and lignins (as natural compounds recalcitrant to degradation) and halogenated aliphatic and aromatic compounds (anthropogenic recalcitrant compounds), the enzymatic activities that we will target are functions able to degrade these compounds. A database of gene functions will be established and maintained.
Next to its great relevance to environmental biotechnology including bioremediation, a spin-off of the work will be the discovery of novel biocatalytic functions of industrial relevance. We will in particular address the catabolic potential that is encoded by the mobilome, the collective pool of mobile genetic elements in the microbiota. We will further apply high-throughput (454-based) sequencing to rapidly unravel the metabolic complement in this mobile gene pool. The project brings together a suite of 15 contractors across Europe, encompassing 21 laboratories spread over 11 countries and including 4 SMEs. Most of the partners are renowned laboratories which have vast experience in metagenomics of environmental samples, biotechnology, enzymology, bioinformatics, the mobilome, waste management and bioremediation and enzyme production.