Omics-driven discovery of novel genetic resources


Without understanding of the hidden biochemical prowess of life, we cannot expect to develop innovative technologies that are essential for environmental stewardship/sustainability and our health. As emergence of environmental, social, and medical issues accelerate at an alarming rate, we must efficiently acquire new and applicable knowledge to push the frontiers of current biology and biotechnology forward. One invaluable and poorly explored biological resource is the plethora of uncharacterized genes that exist in nature, from which we can decipher the biochemical potential and history of life on Earth. The group combines precise environmental genome analysis (metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, etc.) with innovative cultivation techniques to unravel novel metabolic functions and life’s history from genes and genomes.

 More than 90% of the microorganisms on Earth remain uncharacterized and their functions are unknown. In addition, more than 400 million genes have been discovered through research on various microorganisms and genes, but less than 1/4,500 of them have been characterized with function. We perform advanced genome analyses synthesizing environmental genomics, biochemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and machine learning to predict and reconstruct novel metabolic functions and life’s evolutionary history. Through synergistic collaboration with culture specialists, we have been able to investigate the untapped abilities of cultured microorganisms and also accomplish genome-inspired cultivation of uncultured microorganisms.