Rare actinomycetes: a potential storehouse for novel antibiotics

Crit Rev Biotechnol. 2012 Jun;32(2):108-32. doi: 10.3109/07388551.2011.562482. Epub 2011 May 27.


New antimicrobial agents are desperately needed to combat the increasing number of antibiotic resistant strains of pathogenic microorganisms. Natural products remain the most propitious source of novel antibiotics. It is widely accepted that actinobacteria are prolific producers of natural bioactive compounds. We argue that the likelihood of discovering a new compound having a novel chemical structure can be increased with intensive efforts in isolating and screening rare genera of microorganisms. Screening rare actinomycetes and their previously under-represented genera from unexplored environments in natural product screening collections is one way of achieving this. Rare actinomycetes are usually regarded as the actinomycete strains whose isolation frequency is much lower than that of the streptomycete strains isolated by conventional methods. Many natural environments are still either unexplored or under-explored and thus, can be considered as a prolific resource for the isolation of less exploited microorganisms. More and different ecological niches need to be studied as sources of a greater diversity of novel microorganisms. In this review, we wish to update our understanding of the potential of the rare actinomycetes by focusing on the ways and means of enhancing their bio-discovery potential.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacteria / chemistry
  • Actinobacteria / metabolism*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / biosynthesis*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Drug Discovery
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents