Identification of lipolytic enzymes using high-throughput single-cell screening and sorting of a metagenomic library

Amani Alma'abadi, Hayedeh Behzad, Mohammed Alarawi, David Conchouso, Yoshimoto Saito, Masahito Hosokawa, Yohei Nishikawa, Masato Kogawa, Haruko Takeyama, Katsuhiko Mineta*, Takashi Gojobori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The demand for novel, robust microbial biocatalysts for use in industrial and pharmaceutical applications continues to increase rapidly. As a result, there is a need to develop advanced tools and technologies to exploit the vast metabolic potential of unculturable microorganisms found in various environments. Single-cell and functional metagenomics studies can explore the enzymatic potential of entire microbial communities in a given environment without the need to culture the microorganisms. This approach has contributed substantially to the discovery of unique microbial genes for industrial and medical applications. Functional metagenomics involves the extraction of microbial DNA directly from environmental samples, constructing expression libraries comprising the entire microbial genome, and screening of the libraries for the presence of desired phenotypes. In this study, lipolytic enzymes from the Red Sea were targeted. A high-throughput single-cell microfluidic platform combined with a laser-based fluorescent screening bioassay was employed to discover new genes encoding lipolytic enzymes. Analysis of the metagenomic library led to the identification of three microbial genes encoding lipases based on their functional similarity and sequence homology to known lipases. The results demonstrated that microfluidics is a robust technology that can be used for screening in functional metagenomics. The results also indicate that the Red Sea is a promising, under-investigated source of new genes and gene products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-108
Number of pages7
JournalNew Biotechnology
StatePublished - Sep 25 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported in this publication was supported by funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology under award numbers BAS/1/1059/01/01, URF/1/1976/03/01, URF/1/1976/17/01, URF/1/1976/20/01, and FCS/1/3326/01/01. We would like to thank Dr. Rimantas Kodzius for the early stage of this research. We appreciate the technical support from the KAUST core Laboratories for Coastal and Marine resources, Bioscience and Nanofabrication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • Droplet encapsulation
  • Functional metagenomics
  • Lipase
  • Lipolytic enzymes
  • Microfluidics
  • Red Sea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Molecular Biology


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