A metagenomic approach to cyanobacterial genomics

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Alvarenga, Danillo O. [UNESP]
Fiore, Marli F.
Varani, Alessandro M. [UNESP]

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Cyanobacteria, or oxyphotobacteria, are primary producers that establish ecological interactions with a wide variety of organisms. Although their associations with eukaryotes have received most attention, interactions with bacterial and archaeal symbionts have also been occurring for billions of years. Due to these associations, obtaining axenic cultures of cyanobacteria is usually difficult, and most isolation efforts result in unicyanobacterial cultures containing a number of associated microbes, hence composing a microbial consortium. With rising numbers of cyanobacterial blooms due to climate change, demand for genomic evaluations of these microorganisms is increasing. However, standard genomic techniques call for the sequencing of axenic cultures, an approach that not only adds months or even years for culture purification, but also appears to be impossible for some cyanobacteria, which is reflected in the relatively low number of publicly available genomic sequences of this phylum. Under the framework of metagenomics, on the other hand, cumbersome techniques for achieving axenic growth can be circumvented and individual genomes can be successfully obtained from microbial consortia. This review focuses on approaches for the genomic and metagenomic assessment of non-axenic cyanobacterial cultures that bypass requirements for axenity. These methods enable researchers to achieve faster and less costly genomic characterizations of cyanobacterial strains and raise additional information about their associated microorganisms. While non-axenic cultures may have been previously frowned upon in cyanobacteriology, latest advancements in metagenomics have provided new possibilities for in vitro studies of oxyphotobacteria, renewing the value of microbial consortia as a reliable and functional resource for the rapid assessment of bloom-forming cyanobacteria.



Bioinformatics, Genome assembly, Metagenome binning, Microbial consortia, Microbial ecology, Oxyphotobacteria, Symbiosis

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Frontiers in Microbiology, v. 8, n. MAY, 2017.