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J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 2009;16(1-2):25-37. doi: 10.1159/000142892. Epub 2008 Oct 29.

Advances in recovery of novel biocatalysts from metagenomes.

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Biozentrum Klein Flottbek, Abteilung für Mikrobiologie & Biotechnologie, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.


Metagenomics has accelerated the process of discovery of novel biocatalysts by enabling scientists to tap directly into the entire diversity of enzymes held within natural microbial populations. Their characterization has revealed a great deal of valuable information about enzymatic activity in terms of factors which influence their stability and activity under a wide range of conditions. Many of the biocatalysts have particular properties making them suitable for biotechnological applications. A diverse array of strategies has been developed to optimize each step of the process of generating and screening metagenomic libraries for novel biocatalysts. This review covers the diversity of metagenome-derived enzymes characterized to date, and the strategies currently being developed to optimize discovery of novel metagenomic biocatalysts.

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