Natural products from microorganisms

Science  13 Jun 1980:
Vol. 208, Issue 4449, pp. 1225-1229
DOI: 10.1126/science.7375932


Microorganisms are capable of producing natural products with widely divergent chemical structures. Greatest attention in the past has been paid to natural products that have antibiotic properties. Natural products accumulate in fermentation broths during secondary metabolism, a characteristic of the incomplete metabolic control operative in growth-inhibited microorganisms. With this general mechanism of biosynthesis, the natural products synthesized by microorganisms would be expected to have a broad range of pharmacological activities. The directed screening for non-antibiotic natural products has been of limited scope. The expectation that new compounds of interest would be found has been validated. The pharmacologically active natural products provide previously unrecognized structures as tools for fundamental research programs, as well as offering the possibility of direct use in medicine or in industrial processes.