September 26, 2023

Optimizing Cell-based Antimicrobials through Pooled Genomic Libraries


DNA synthesis and assembly technologies ushered in through synthetic biology have great promise for biomanufacturing, bioremediation, and the development of living therapeutics. Unfortunately, predicting sequence to function relationships, including for biosynthetic pathways expressed in a new host organism, is difficult and often requires many iterative cycles of design, construction, and testing. We are working to develop data-driven approaches to identify the genetic determinants of growth defects and productivity for the expression of a cell-based antimicrobial. We assayed the growth, pigment production, and antimicrobial activity of a collection of over 10,000 genetic mutants of the violacein biosynthetic pathway and sequenced the genetic variation of these mutants. Through this project, we have developed an innovative codebase to automate the determination of pigmentation and antimicrobial clearing diameter for tens of thousands of genetic mutants cultivated on agar dishes. Further, we have written DNA sequence analysis code to demultiplex & provide consensus sequences from high-throughput PacBio long-read circular consensus sequencing (CCS) datasets. From this foundation, we plan to map DNA sequence to function to predict an optimal genetic design to maximize antimicrobial activity while minimizing deleterious growth effects. The workflows and algorithms developed through this project can be broadly applied to other engineered functions in microbes, uncovering sequence to function relationships for complex phenotypes where function impacts fitness.

Published: September 26, 2023


Egbert R.G., J.R. Elmore, C.F. Gonzalez Rivera, K.E. Dorow, S.M. Akers, A.R. Frank, and A.J. Wilson, et al. 2023. Optimizing Cell-based Antimicrobials through Pooled Genomic Libraries Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.