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Celera, Diversa to Collaborate on Microbial Genome Sequencing

 

NEW YORK, Dec 5 - Celera said Tuesday it had signed a “multi-year, cross-royalty” collaboration to sequence the genomes of selected, uncultured microorganisms contained in Diversa Corporation's environmental libraries.

The deal represents Celera’s first foray into the microbial population.

“Celera as a discovery company is open to exploring lots of different avenues,” Celera spokeswoman Heather Kowalski told GenomeWeb.

“Obviously we are building and our goal is to become the repository of all genomic data. We want people to come here and have access to a wide, wide range of genomes. We are open to exploring lots and lots of organisms,” she said.

Kowalski declined to say whether the data would be offered to its database subscribers. She also declined to discuss the financial terms and royalty-sharing structure of the deal.

Diversa spokeswoman Hillary Theakston said that the company would benefit from Celera's high-throughput technology, which together with its own proprietary technologies will help speed new product development. Diversa develops enzymes and other biological compounds and works with a number of strategic partners.

According to the companies microbial populations represent the largest, untapped genetic resource on earth. It is estimated that 99% of microbes have never been grown or characterized, offering a largely untapped source for genetic discovery. Diversa’s microbial samples include species that can survive at high temperatures and extreme pH levels.

Under the terms of the deal, Diversa will have access to the 300 sequencers at Celera’s Rockville, Md., facility, significantly expanding its screening capabilities. Although the company has its own sequencing capabilities, which it used to sequence the entire genome of the hyperthermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus , the vast amount of data contained in Diversa’s environmental libraries demands much higher throughput methods, the company said.

Diversa would not disclose which microbes it plans on sequencing first.

The data generated will be compared to proprietary libraries Diversa has built using its patented technologies designed to accelerate the discovery of unique genes and gene pathways from microbial genomes at rates over 10,000 times faster than traditional methods.