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J Antibiot (Tokyo). 2013 Jul;66(7):361-4. doi: 10.1038/ja.2013.61. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Specialized microbial metabolites: functions and origins.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Life Sciences Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


The period from 1950 to date brought about a revolution in the pharmaceutical industry: the use of large-scale fermentation methods to produce drugs (mostly antibiotics). The industrial modification of natural biosynthetic processes led to production methods capable of generating massive amounts of therapeutic agents. Natural products became industrial products. This transition took place in complete absence of any knowledge of the roles and functions of small molecules in nature. This discourse attempts to redirect enquiry into the natural roles of these molecules and the ways in which they regulate microbial populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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