The E. coli strain collection for synthetic biology
E. coli is the most defined free-living organism. It is used for many synthetic biology and biotechnology settings, and is based upon prior knowledge it is the best system currently available for system modelling, metabolic engineering, and laboratory use in the areas to which it is applicable. Some strains are associated with infection, predominantly urinary and intestinal infections, and rarely more serious infection, but the majority of strains are associated with animals (including bird) where they are normally harmless commensals.
This strain collection contains 200 unrelated strains of E. coli obtained from a variety of sources, plus a sequence verified strain K12 MG1655 representative. The strains are highly diverse genetically, and are divided into scalable sub-groups, based upon their diversity, in order to perform comparative functional analyses.
For internal and collaborative analyses the strains have been annotated for the presence or absence of 20,000 coding features using novel in-house highly consistent annotation strategies to support functional comparative analyses. Further annotation and characterization of the collection is ongoing.
The strain collection has been used to re-determine the core genome of the species, which is the basis for building new metabolic models of the system. We have found that the core genome has been under-estimated by current published reports, and this is the basis for designing new optimized chassis strains of E. coli.
Given the current state of this collection and assessments of its diversity, future additions are planned to be on the basis of targeted strain selection rather than random addition addressing under-represented areas of species diversity and inclusion of strains with specifically selected behaviours / properties of interest.
Academic or commercial researchers interested in collaborative use of the collection, or project-focussed extension of the collection and behavioural analysis of strains should email Professor Saunders to discuss.