A new sequencing project is set to unleash the biotechnology potential of euglenoids, a group of single-celled, aquatic organisms that are found in freshwater environments around the world. The project, led by researchers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, will generate the first complete genome sequences of two euglenoid species, Astasia longa and Phacus large, which are known to produce a range of valuable metabolites.
The sequencing of the Astasia genome is already complete, and analysis of the data is ongoing. The Phacus genome is expected to be finished in the coming months. The data from both projects will be made freely available to the scientific community, opening up new avenues of research into the potential of these organisms for the production of medicinally-important compounds.
Euglenoids are a type of flagellate, a group of single-celled organisms that possess one or more whip-like appendages known as flagella. These flagella are used for propulsion through water, but can also be used to capture prey. Euglenoids are among the most diverse and widespread of the flagellates, and can be found in freshwater environments all over the world.
While they are not currently used in biotechnology, euglenoids have great potential in this area. They are known to produce a range of metabolites, including some with medicinal properties. For example, the compound euglena gracilis exogenous polypeptide (EGEP) has been shown to have potent anticancer activity.
The sequencing of the Astasia and Phacus genomes will provide researchers with a valuable resource for uncovering the genes and pathways involved in the production of these metabolites. It is hoped that this will lead to the development of new, more efficient ways to produce these compounds for use in medicines and other products.
The Astasia and Phacus genome sequencing projects are being funded by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
A new sequencing project is set to unleash the biotechnology potential of euglenoids, a group of single-celled organisms that are widely distributed in freshwater ecosystems.
Led by Professor Thomas Cavalier-Smith of Oxford University, UK, the project will sequence the genomes of 12 representative euglenoids, which will provide insights into the evolutionary history of this large and diverse group of organisms.
Euglenoids are a promising source of biotechnologically useful enzymes and other proteins, and the new genome sequences will allow researchers to identify and characterise these proteins.
The project is funded by the UK-based charity Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).