Our current research aims at getting a better understanding for the genetic mechanisms involved in the biosynthesis of nature products and their evolution. Here we focus on the actinomycete genus Amycolatopsis, as a model antibiotic producer with a huge undiscovered genetic potential for secondary metabolites. To understand the variation of secondary metabolite gene clusters within the context of the species’ evolution, genome mining and comparative genomics approaches are combined.
We were able to uncover the evolutionary distribution patterns of secondary metabolite gene clusters in Amycolaotpsis. While a basic set of these gene clusters evolved with the respective phylogenetic subgroup, the vast majority of secondary metabolite gene clusters is derived from clusters unique within the genus. Comparison to known biosynthetic gene clusters from public databases revealed that a major part of these singleton clusters has not been linked to any known compounds. Using the ARTS pipeline, we were further able to identify unique Amycolatopsis gene clusters as candidates for heterologous expression, that are characterized in our ongoing research.