Analyzing the genomic variation of microbial cell factories in the era of "New Biotechnology"
The application of genome-scale technologies, both experimental and in silico, to industrial biotechnology has allowed improving the conversion of biomass-derived feedstocks to chemicals, materials and fuels through microbial fermentation. In particular, due to rapidly decreasing costs and its suitability for identifying the genetic determinants of a phenotypic trait of interest, whole genome sequencing is expected to be one of the major driving forces in industrial biotechnology in the coming years. We present some of the recent studies that have successfully applied high-throughput sequencing technologies for finding the underlying molecular mechanisms for (a) improved carbon source utilization, (b) increased product formation, and (c) stress tolerance. We also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different strategies for mapping industrially relevant genotype-to-phenotype links including exploiting natural diversity in natural isolates or crosses between isolates, classical mutagenesis and evolutionary engineering.