Marine actinomycetes: an ongoing source of novel bioactive metabolites

Microbiol Res. 2012 Dec 20;167(10):571-80. doi: 10.1016/j.micres.2012.06.005. Epub 2012 Jul 15.


Actinomycetes are virtually unlimited sources of novel compounds with many therapeutic applications and hold a prominent position due to their diversity and proven ability to produce novel bioactive compounds. There are more than 22,000 known microbial secondary metabolites, 70% of which are produced by actinomycetes, 20% from fungi, 7% from Bacillus spp. and 1-2% by other bacteria. Among the actinomycetes, streptomycetes group are considered economically important because out of the approximately more than 10,000 known antibiotics, 50-55% are produced by this genus. The ecological role of actinomycetes in the marine ecosystem is largely neglected and various assumptions meant there was little incentive to isolate marine strains for search and discovery of new drugs. The search for and discovery of rare and new actinomycetes is of significant interest to drug discovery due to a growing need for the development of new and potent therapeutic agents. Modern molecular technologies are adding strength to the target-directed search for detection and isolation of bioactive actinomycetes, and continued development of improved cultivation methods and molecular technologies for accessing the marine environment promises to provide access to this significant new source of chemical diversity with novel/rare actinomycetes including new species of previously reported actinomycetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacteria / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biological Products / metabolism*
  • Drug Discovery / methods
  • Ecosystem
  • Humans
  • Marine Biology
  • Seawater / microbiology*
  • Water Microbiology


  • Biological Products