Next Article in Journal
The Membrane-Active Phytopeptide Cycloviolacin O2 Simultaneously Targets HIV-1-infected Cells and Infectious Viral Particles to Potentiate the Efficacy of Antiretroviral Drugs
Next Article in Special Issue
Mitragyna speciosa: Clinical, Toxicological Aspects and Analysis in Biological and Non-Biological Samples
Previous Article in Journal / Special Issue
Cannabis and Its Secondary Metabolites: Their Use as Therapeutic Drugs, Toxicological Aspects, and Analytical Determination
Article Menu
Issue 1 (March) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessReview

New Approaches to Detect Biosynthetic Gene Clusters in the Environment

School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia
Australian Centre for Astrobiology, The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Medicines 2019, 6(1), 32;
Received: 26 January 2019 / Revised: 22 February 2019 / Accepted: 22 February 2019 / Published: 25 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Potential and Medical Use of Secondary Metabolites)
PDF [270 KB, uploaded 25 February 2019]


Microorganisms in the environment can produce a diverse range of secondary metabolites (SM), which are also known as natural products. Bioactive SMs have been crucial in the development of antibiotics and can also act as useful compounds in the biotechnology industry. These natural products are encoded by an extensive range of biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs). The developments in omics technologies and bioinformatic tools are contributing to a paradigm shift from traditional culturing and screening methods to bioinformatic tools and genomics to uncover BGCs that were previously unknown or transcriptionally silent. Natural product discovery using bioinformatics and omics workflow in the environment has demonstrated an extensive distribution of BGCs in various environments, such as soil, aquatic ecosystems and host microbiome environments. Computational tools provide a feasible and culture-independent route to find new secondary metabolites where traditional approaches cannot. This review will highlight some of the advances in the approaches, primarily bioinformatic, in identifying new BGCs, especially in environments where microorganisms are rarely cultured. This has allowed us to tap into the huge potential of microbial dark matter. View Full-Text
Keywords: natural products; biosynthetic gene clusters; secondary metabolites; antiSMASH natural products; biosynthetic gene clusters; secondary metabolites; antiSMASH
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Chen, R.; Wong, H.L.; Burns, B.P. New Approaches to Detect Biosynthetic Gene Clusters in the Environment. Medicines 2019, 6, 32.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Medicines EISSN 2305-6320 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top