Coronavirus Information for the UC San Diego Community

Our leaders are working closely with federal and state officials to ensure your ongoing safety at the university. Stay up to date with the latest developments. Learn more.

Comparative genomics uncovers the prolific and distinctive metabolic potential of the cyanobacterial genus Moorea

Gene cluster networking of PAL

Gene cluster networking of PAL

TitleComparative genomics uncovers the prolific and distinctive metabolic potential of the cyanobacterial genus Moorea
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsLeao T., Castelao G., Korobeynikov A., Monroe E.A, Podell S, Glukhov E., Allena E.E, Gerwick WH, Gerwick L
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Date Published2017/03
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0027-8424
Accession NumberWOS:000396893600073
Keywordsbiosynthetic gene; clusters; coverage; differentiation; diversity; gene cluster network; genome comparison; heterocyst glycolipids; insights; mass-spectrometry; metagenomes; natural-product discovery; secondary metabolism; sequences; tropical marine cyanobacteria

Cyanobacteria are major sources of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon in nature. In addition to the importance of their primary metabolism, some cyanobacteria are prolific producers of unique and bioactive secondary metabolites. Chemical investigations of the cyanobacterial genus Moorea have resulted in the isolation of over 190 compounds in the last two decades. However, preliminary genomic analysis has suggested that genome-guided approaches can enable the discovery of novel compounds from even well-studied Moorea strains, highlighting the importance of obtaining complete genomes. We report a complete genome of a filamentous tropical marine cyanobacterium, Moorea producens PAL, which reveals that about one-fifth of its genome is devoted to production of secondary metabolites, an impressive four times the cyanobacterial average. Moreover, possession of the complete PAL genome has allowed improvement to the assembly of three other Moorea draft genomes. Comparative genomics revealed that they are remarkably similar to one another, despite their differences in geography, morphology, and secondary metabolite profiles. Gene cluster networking highlights that this genus is distinctive among cyanobacteria, not only in the number of secondary metabolite pathways but also in the content of many pathways, which are potentially distinct from all other bacterial gene clusters to date. These findings portend that future genome-guided secondary metabolite discovery and isolation efforts should be highly productive.


The genus Moorea has yielded more than 40% of all reported marine cyanobacterial natural products. Preliminary genomic data suggest that many more natural products are yet to be discovered. However, incomplete genomic information has hampered the discovery of novel compounds using genome-mining approaches. Here, we report a complete genome of a filamentous marine tropical cyanobacterium, Moorea producens PAL, along with the improvement of other three Moorea draft genomes. Our analyses revealed a vast and distinctive natural product metabolic potential in these strains, highlighting that they are still an excellent source of unique metabolites despite previous extensive studies.

Student Publication: