Recent paper explores biosynthetic gene clusters in biocrust microorganisms

Northen Lab researchers Marc Goethem, Andrew Osborn, Ben Bowen, Tami Swenson, and Trent Northen are authors on the recently published paper “Long-read metagenomics of soil communities reveals phylum-specific secondary metabolite dynamics.” Key to this paper are biosynthetic gene clusters, or BGCs, which are groups of genes that encode a metabolic pathway and are found in bacteria, fungi, and plants. 

This study utilized short- and long-read metagenomic sequencing to look for BGCs in bacteria present in biological soil crusts, or biocrusts, which constitute 12% of total soil surface area. Laboratory experiments revealed that most BGCs are transcribed after rain events and cyanobacteria BGC transcription increases at night, unlike other phyla. 

To learn more, check out the full paper