The deep ocean is the largest habitat for life on Earth, though the microorganisms that occupy this unique environmental niche remain largely unexplored. Due to the significant logistical and operational challenges associated with accessing the deep ocean, bioprospecting programmes that seek to generate novel products from marine organisms have to date focused predominantly on samples recovered from shallow seas. For this reason, the deep ocean remains a largely untapped resource of novel microbiological life and associated natural products. Here we report the establishment of the Bristol Sponge Microbiome Collection (BISECT), a unique repository of deep-sea microorganisms and associated metabolites isolated from the microbiota of marine sponges, recovered from previously unsurveyed regions of the mid Atlantic Ocean, at depths of 0.5 – 3 km. An integrated biodiscovery pipeline comprising molecular, genetic, bioinformatic and analytical tools is also described, which is being applied to interrogate this collection. The potential of this approach is illustrated using data reporting our initial efforts to identify antimicrobial natural product lead compounds. Prospects for the use of BISECT for addressing allied pharmaceutical needs, along with mechanisms of access to the collection, are also discussed.
- Bristol BioDesign Institute
- Natural products