来自细菌的几乎所有药物和候选药物，都是由少数几组代谢丰富的生物产生的。这使得那些占绝大多数的、不能培养或没有培养出的微生物成为一个基本上未被开发利用的资源。Jörn Piel及同事在本文中报告，他们利用单细胞和元基因组分析识别出两个潜在的“环境工厂”，二者都是候选属Entotheonella的成员，是化学丰富的海绵Theonella swinhoei的共生体。重要的是，他们发现，两种微生物的基因组都编码多个截然不同的生物合成基因簇，这些基因簇一起可解释过去被认为是由海绵寄主生成的生物活性聚酮化合物和肽的大多数。这一发现将Entotheonella和新提出的Tectomicrobia门的成员确定为与放线菌相当的一个“有生化才能的”(biochemically talented)门。
Cultivated bacteria such as actinomycetes are a highly useful source of biomedically important natural products. However, such ‘talented’ producers represent only a minute fraction of the entire, mostly uncultivated, prokaryotic diversity. The uncultured majority is generally perceived as a large, untapped resource of new drug candidates, but so far it is unknown whether taxa containing talented bacteria indeed exist. Here we report the single-cell- and metagenomics-based discovery of such producers. Two phylotypes of the candidate genus ‘Entotheonella’ with genomes of greater than 9 megabases and multiple, distinct biosynthetic gene clusters co-inhabit the chemically and microbially rich marine sponge Theonella swinhoei. Almost all bioactive polyketides and peptides known from this animal were attributed to a single phylotype. ‘Entotheonella’ spp. are widely distributed in sponges and belong to an environmental taxon proposed here as candidate phylum ‘Tectomicrobia’. The pronounced bioactivities and chemical uniqueness of ‘Entotheonella’ compounds provide significant opportunities for ecological studies and drug discovery.