Polyketide synthase pathways identified from a metagenomic library are derived from soil Acidobacteria

Larissa C. Parsley, Jonathan Linneman, Ann M. Goode, Kristen Becklund, Isabelle George, Robert M. Goodman, Nicole B. Lopanik, Mark R. Liles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Polyketides are structurally diverse secondary metabolites, many of which have antibiotic or anticancer activity. Type I modular polyketide synthase (PKS) genes are typically large and encode repeating enzymatic domains that elongate and modify the nascent polyketide chain. A fosmid metagenomic library constructed from an agricultural soil was arrayed and the macroarray was screened for the presence of conserved ketosynthase [β-ketoacyl synthase (KS)] domains, enzymatic domains present in PKSs. Thirty-four clones containing KS domains were identified by Southern hybridization. Many of the KS domains contained within metagenomic clones shared significant similarity to PKS or nonribosomal peptide synthesis genes from members of the Cyanobacteria or the Proteobacteria phyla. However, analysis of complete clone insert sequences indicated that the blast analysis for KS domains did not reflect the true phylogenetic origin of many of these metagenomic clones that had a %G+C content and significant sequence similarity to genes from members of the phylum Acidobacteria. This conclusion of an Acidobacteria origin for several clones was further supported by evidence that cultured soil Acidobacteria from different subdivisions have genetic loci closely related to PKS domains contained within metagenomic clones, suggesting that Acidobacteria may be a source of novel polyketides. This study also demonstrates the utility of combining data from culture-dependent and -independent investigations in expanding our collective knowledge of microbial genomic diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-187
Number of pages12
JournalFEMS microbiology ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


  • Acidobacteria
  • Ketosynthase
  • Macroarray
  • Metagenomics
  • Polyketide synthase
  • Soil


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