After the Scripps Research Institute in Florida had new facilities installed to accommodate a massive microbial biobank it inherited from Pfizer, chemist Ben Shen eagerly welcomed the resource. It contains more than 210,000 frozen or freeze-dried microbial strains that Shen and his colleagues are now mining for natural products.
In May 2019, a standalone cold room was installed on the Scripps campus.
MARK VAN HOY, SCRIPPS RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Inside the cold room are large racks that hang from rails and house bundles of glass ampules containing freeze-dried microbial samples that Shen hopes to mine for natural products.
The collection also contains thousands of microbial samples housed in freezers inside the building where Shen works.
Shen and his colleagues can culture the bacteria to isolate natural products they make, or the researchers can sequence the microbes’ genomes and look for gene clusters that encode the enzyme necessary for the production of natural products.
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Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist. Email her at email@example.com.