Mining and unearthing hidden biosynthetic potential

Nat Commun. 2021 Jun 23;12(1):3864. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24133-5.


Genetically encoded small molecules (secondary metabolites) play eminent roles in ecological interactions, as pathogenicity factors and as drug leads. Yet, these chemical mediators often evade detection, and the discovery of novel entities is hampered by low production and high rediscovery rates. These limitations may be addressed by genome mining for biosynthetic gene clusters, thereby unveiling cryptic metabolic potential. The development of sophisticated data mining methods and genetic and analytical tools has enabled the discovery of an impressive array of previously overlooked natural products. This review shows the newest developments in the field, highlighting compound discovery from unconventional sources and microbiomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products / chemistry
  • Biological Products / metabolism
  • Biosynthetic Pathways / genetics
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Data Mining / methods*
  • Drug Discovery / methods
  • Genome, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Genome, Plant / genetics*
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Secondary Metabolism / genetics


  • Biological Products