The 160K Natural Organism Library houses a wealth of novel compounds for biological research | 12/20/2018 | Staff
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A library based at A*STAR containing more than 160,000 biological specimens is a treasure trove of biologically active compounds for wide ranging applications.

The 160K Natural Organism Library, at A*STAR's Bioinformatics Institute, is one of the largest libraries of its kind in the world, housing more than 37,000 plant species, 54,000 fungi specimens, and nearly 68,000 strains of bacteria in cold storage. The collection also includes more than 340,000 organic extracts—around one-fifth of which have been chemically fingerprinted—and 2,600 compounds isolated from biological samples.

Library - Discovery - Platform - Users - Riches

The library is also unique in that it has an in-house discovery platform to help users efficiently mine its biological riches through conventional biological high-throughput screening (testing extracts and compounds against relevant bioassays), chemi­cal screening, genomic screening, and what Frank Eisenhaber, director of the Bioinformatics Institute, calls in silico, or digital screening, which uses computational tools to look into the annotations of genomes, proteins and metabolites.

"My dream is that at some stage we will have an in silico library in addition to the physical library, so high-throughput screening is done not with the biological extracts but with the genomes in silico," he says.

Vision - Genomes - Library - Day

His vision is that all the genomes in the library will one day be sequenced. When that is achieved, instead of conducting labour-intensive,...
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