In recent years, the marine environment has been the subject of increasing attention from biotechnological and pharmaceutical industries as a valuable and promising source of novel bioactive compounds. Marine biodiscovery programmes have begun to reveal the extent of novel compounds encoded within the enormous bacterial richness and diversity of the marine ecosystem. A combination of unique physicochemical properties and spatial niche-specific substrates, in wide-ranging and extreme habitats, underscores the potential of the marine environment to deliver on functionally novel biocatalytic activities. With the growing need for green alternatives to industrial processes, and the unique transformations which nature is capable of performing, marine biocatalysts have the potential to markedly improve current industrial pipelines. Furthermore, biocatalysts are known to possess chiral selectivity and specificity, a key focus of pharmaceutical drug design. In this review, we discuss how the explosion in genomics based sequence analysis, allied with parallel developments in synthetic and molecular biology, have the potential to fast-track the discovery and subsequent improvement of a new generation of marine biocatalysts.
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