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Genome mining has become a key technology to explore and exploit natural product diversity through the identification and analysis of biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs). Initially, this was performed on a single-genome basis; currently, the process is being scaled up to large-scale mining of pan-genomes of entire genera, complete strain collections and metagenomic datasets from which thousands of bacterial genomes can be extracted at once. However, no bioinformatic framework is currently available for the effective analysis of datasets of this size and complexity. Here, we provide a streamlined computational workflow, tightly integrated with antiSMASH and MIBiG, that consists of two new software tools, BiG-SCAPE and CORASON. BiG-SCAPE facilitates rapid calculation and interactive visual exploration of BGC sequence similarity networks, grouping gene clusters at multiple hierarchical levels, and includes a 'glocal' alignment mode that accurately groups both complete and fragmented BGCs. CORASON employs a phylogenomic approach to elucidate the detailed evolutionary relationships between gene clusters by computing high-resolution multi-locus phylogenies of all BGCs within and across gene cluster families (GCFs), and allows researchers to comprehensively identify all genomic contexts in which particular biosynthetic gene cassettes are found. We validate BiG-SCAPE by correlating its GCF output to metabolomic data across 403 actinobacterial strains. Furthermore, we demonstrate the discovery potential of the platform by using CORASON to comprehensively map the phylogenetic diversity of the large detoxin/rimosamide gene cluster clan, prioritizing three new detoxin families for subsequent characterization of six new analogs using isotopic labeling and analysis of tandem mass spectrometric data.

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