Lichens have been widely used in traditional medicine, especially by indigenous communities worldwide. However, their slow growth and difficulties in the isolation of lichen symbionts and associated microbes have hindered the pharmaceutical utilisation of lichen-produced compounds. Advances in high-throughput sequencing techniques now permit detailed investigations of the complex microbial communities formed by fungi, green algae, cyanobacteria, and other bacteria within the lichen thalli. Here, we used amplicon sequencing, shotgun metagenomics, and in silico metabolomics together with compound extractions to study reindeer lichens collected from Southern Finland. Our aim was to evaluate the potential of Cladonia species as sources of novel natural products. We compared the predicted biosynthetic pathways of lichen compounds from isolated genome-sequenced lichen fungi and our environmental samples. Potential biosynthetic genes could then be further used to produce secondary metabolites in more tractable hosts. Furthermore, we detected multiple compounds by metabolite analyses, which revealed connections between the identified biosynthetic gene clusters and their products. Taken together, our results contribute to metagenomic data studies from complex lichen-symbiotic communities and provide valuable new information for use in further biochemical and pharmacological studies.
- 11832 Mikrobiologia ja virologia