Myxobacteria: proficient producers of novel natural products with various biological activities--past and future biotechnological aspects with the focus on the genus Sorangium

J Biotechnol. 2003 Dec 19;106(2-3):233-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2003.07.015.


Myxobacteria are gram-negative bacteria which are most noted for their ability to form fruiting bodies upon starvation. Within the last two decades, they increasingly gained attention as producers of natural products with biological activity. Here, recent and future biotechnological research on certain key myxobacteria and on their ability to produce natural products is reviewed with the focus on the production of myxovirescin, soraphen and epothilone. Aspects of product improvement and yield as well as statistics regarding secondary metabolite formation are discussed. Future research will deal with the exploitation of the biosynthetic potential of the myxobacteria, for example via the isolation of new myxobacterial species with different physiological properties. Additionally, the genetic potential of myxobacteria to form natural products can be exploited by the identification and activation of biosynthetic gene clusters. These can be found frequently within their genomes, which is shown by the analysis of the unfinished genomes of Myxococcus xanthus and Sorangium cellulosum. The current status of the S. cellulosum functional genome project with model strain So ce56 is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Epothilones / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Lactones / metabolism*
  • Macrolides / metabolism*
  • Myxococcales / genetics*
  • Myxococcales / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity


  • Epothilones
  • Lactones
  • Macrolides
  • soraphen A
  • myxovirescin A