In Nature this week, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, report the discovery of novel soil-dwelling bacteria with gene clusters that enable secondary metabolite biosynthesis, suggesting that the organisms may be a new source of molecules with biomedical potential. The team reconstructed near-complete genomes of hundreds of microorganisms from Northern California grasslands and identified more than a thousand biosynthetic gene clusters inferred to synthesize peptides, antibacterial toxins, and metabolites of unclear function. The researchers say that the "biosynthetic potential of abundant and phylogenetically diverse soil microorganisms has previously been underestimated," and that these organisms may be a source of natural products that can address needs for new antibiotics and other pharmaceutical compounds.
And in Nature Plants, an international research team publishes a new high-quality genome sequence of the rose, highlighting the utility of genomic and epigenomic approaches in studying key traits in ornamentals and other plants. The researchers produced a doubled haploid rose line from Rosa chinensis — one of the most influential genotypes in rose breeding — combining long and short reads, and anchoring to a high-density genetic map. They use their reference sequence to analyze loci controlling ornamental traits — including continuous flowering, double flower, self-incompatibility, and prickle density — and identify and characterize candidate genes for the traits. The sequence represents an important resource for studying polyploidization, meiosis, and developmental processes, and will help "accelerate breeding through the development of molecular markers linked to traits, the identification of the genes underlying them, and the exploitation of synteny across Rosaceae," the researchers say.