METAEXPLORE - Metagenomics for bioexploration - tools and application

The MetaExplore project aims to develop and apply advanced molecular tools that allow the cloning and sequencing of the metagenomes of microbial communities of selected soil and aquatic habitats, followed by educated activity- and sequence-based screenings for, and analyses and engineering of, target enzymatic activities. We focus in particular on improved enzymes involved in the biodegradation of recalcitrant and xenobiotic molecules.

MetaExplore is a European research project funded by the EC with 18 participating groups from The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Slovenia and Argentina. The project is driven by both industrial demand and state-of-the-art environmental metagenomics technologies.


  • Consolidated methodology - Development of Consortium-wide cutting-edge methodology that allows highly optimized use of environmental metagenomics to search for novel biocatalytic activity useful in waste management ( production of chiral pharmaceuticals as a spin-off)
  • Novel enzymes - Production of novel enzymes with chitin-degrading activities, lignin-degrading activities, dehalogenase / halogenase activities, ammonia lyase/epoxide hydrolase activities
  • Habitat prediction - Improvement of the current understanding of the natural prevalence and mobility of the genes encoding the selected enzymes, to allow identification of habitats most conducive to successful exploration. Special attention will be given to the mobilome as the carrier of such genes.
  • Supporting database - Establishment of effective sequence database systems to support screening and exploitation of the targeted enzymatic activities.

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