Institut für Systembiotechnologie

iSBio to re-program drug producing microbes is featured on the cover of Biotechnology & Bioengineering

News January 4, 2021

The December 2020 back cover highlights a novel strategy that uses microparticles to streamline the lifestyle of the soil microbe Streptomyces towards elevated production of the antituberculosis drug pamamycin, belonging to the polyketide family.

As shown in our study, the addition of talc particles of micrometer size to the growth medium of Streptomyces albus, fundamentally changed the life of the microbes. They adapted their complex growth morphology from huge ball-like aggregates to smaller structures which appeared more vital throughout the process. As shown by RNA sequencing, the talc particles largely affected the cellular program. Cells revealed an accelerated lifecycle from initial spore germination via mycelium formation to spore formation again, and talc activated important control proteins and regulators driving this lifecycle. Beneficially, the expression of the pamamycin biosynthetic gene cluster was strongly activated too: genes were transcribed up to about 1,000-fold stronger in the presence of talc, boosting production of the efficient antituberculosis drug.

The publication is a joint innovation enabled through MyBio, a BMBF funded collaboration project to streamline Streptomyces microbes for elevated polyketide formation, compounds with various pharmaceutical and medical applications. In the collaboration, iSBio joins forces with the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Institute at Saarland University, the CEBITEC Centre of Bielefeld University, the high-tech bioinformatics enterprise Genedata and the leading chemical company BASF SE.

The cover image is based on the original article "Microparticles globally reprogram Streptomyces albus toward accelerated morphogenesis, streamlined carbon core metabolism, and enhanced production of the antituberculosis polyketide pamamycin" by Martin Kuhl et al. (


Back cover image Vol. 117(12)