Vibrio natriegens: new Host at the service of molecular biology

Many scholars all over the world use E. coli as host for the most diverse molecular biology experiments. Unfortunately, the classic laboratory protocol requires at least 3 days: first day: transformation, second day: growth in liquid medium and third day: plasmid preparation. But since “time is money” the researchers worked to find a new bacterium to use that was more manageable and “fished” Vibrio natriegens.

Vibrio Natrigens: identity card
Vibrio natriegens [1,2-9] is a Gram-negative marine bacterium which has been isolated for the first time from the mud of a salt marsh. It is in fact a halophilic organism (particularly adapted to rather high salinity levels) which requires about 2% of NaCl for growth. V. natriegens is an optional anaerobe and therefore is able to produce ATP through aerobic respiration but also to perform fermentation. Furthermore, under anaerobic conditions, V. natriegens has been shown to be capable of nitrogen fixation [3,6-16].

This bacterium is extremely versatile since it has been shown that it can use a wide range of organic molecules as the sole source of carbon and energy. Furthermore, it has been shown that it follows the same biosynthetic pathways of the amino acids of E. coli [8,15], which makes it, from the metabolic point of view, very versatile and allows to use the same strategies already developed for E. coli.

E. Coli and V. Natrigens in comparison
The high metabolic similarity shared between E.coli and V. natriegens is extremely encouraging for scientists who have speculated that V. natriegens could replace E. coli, which grows relatively slowly, as the main organism to be used in the biotechnological and molecular biology research.

Under optimal conditions and with all the nutrients supplied, the duplication time of V. natriegens can be less than 10 minutes [7], while the average time for duplication in E. coli is 25-35 minutes depending on the type of strain used.

In a recent study by Long, et. al [17], the metabolisms of V. natriegens and E. coli were compared in order to fill gaps in understanding the metabolism of V. natriegens that could contribute to its rapid growth. This study has shown that the central carbon metabolism and the biosynthetic pathways of V. natriegens amino acids are very similar to those of E. coli, which is an unexpected result given their difference in growth rates. Furthermore, this study found that the RNA content was higher for V. natriegens (29%) than for E. coli (21%).

Previous studies have shown that the RNA content is often higher for fast-growing strains, which may reflect the need for more ribosomes to support higher growth rates. Another study previously found that there are a greater number of rRNA (ribosomal) coding genes contained in the V. natriegens genome than in E. coli and which have greater promoter activity [7], which translates into a increased ribosome production.

There is enormous interest in clarifying the mechanisms that allow V. natriegens to duplicate itself so quickly. In addition, there is considerable attention in research on the optimization of molecular biology techniques for V. natriegens and on the exploration of potential applications of this bacterium in molecular biology research in the biotechnology industry.

Many studies are still ongoing, but the use of this bacterium could radically revolutionize the work of many workers in the sector.

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