Mining Actinomycetes for Novel Antibiotics in the Omics Era: Are We Ready to Exploit This New Paradigm?

Antibiotics (Basel). 2018 Sep 25;7(4):85. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics7040085.


The current spread of multi-drug resistance in a number of key pathogens and the lack of therapeutic solutions in development to address most of the emerging infections in the clinic that are difficult to treat have become major concerns. Microbial natural products represent one of the most important sources for the discovery of potential new antibiotics and actinomycetes have been one of the most relevant groups that are prolific producers of these bioactive compounds. Advances in genome sequencing and bioinformatic tools have collected a wealth of knowledge on the biosynthesis of these molecules. This has revealed the broad untapped biosynthetic diversity of actinomycetes, with large genomes and the capacity to produce more molecules than previously estimated, opening new opportunities to identify the novel classes of compounds that are awaiting to be discovered. Comparative genomics, metabolomics and proteomics and the development of new analysis and genetic engineering tools provide access to the integration of new knowledge and better understanding of the physiology of actinomycetes and their tight regulation of the production of natural products antibiotics. This new paradigm is fostering the development of new genomic-driven and culture-based strategies, which aims to deliver new chemical classes of antibiotics to be developed to the clinic and replenish the exhausted pipeline of drugs for fighting the progression of infection diseases in the near future.

Keywords: actinomycetes; antibiotics; culture-based approaches; omics; secondary metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review