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Marine sponges harbouring uncultured symbiotic bacteria are important sources of biologically active compounds. Since they would be interesting resources to explore unknown functional genes by means of a metagenomic approach, we constructed a metagenomic library of the Japanese marine sponge Discodermia calyx. The functional screening afforded the two clones producing porphyrins as red pigments. The isolation and structural elucidation of the red pigments revealed that the major red pigment was Zn-coproporphyrin III. The sequence data of the clones identified genes encoding glutamyl-tRNA reductase along with other ORFs related to porphyrin biosynthesis.
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