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Summary

Whole genome amplification (WGA) approaches provide genomic information on single microbial cells and hold great promise for the field of environmental microbiology. Here, the microbial consortia of the marine sponge Aplysina aerophoba were sorted by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and then subjected to WGA. A cosmid library was constructed from the WGA product of a sample containing two bacterial cells, one a member of the candidate phylum Poribacteria and one of a sponge-specific clade of Chloroflexi. Library screening led to the genomic characterization of three cosmid clones, encoding a polyketide synthase (PKS), a non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) and the Chloroflexi 16S rRNA gene. PCR screening of WGA products from additional, FACS-sorted single bacterial symbiont cells supports the assignment of the Sup-PKS gene to the Poribacteria and the novel NRPS gene to the Chloroflexi. This promising single-cell genomics approach has permitted cloning of entire gene clusters from single microbial cells of known phylogenetic origin and thus provides a sought-after link between phylogeny and function.