Regulation of antibiotic production in Actinobacteria: new perspectives from the post-genomic era
Covering: 2000 to 2018
The antimicrobial activity of many of their natural products has brought prominence to the Streptomycetaceae, a family of Gram-positive bacteria that inhabit both soil and aquatic sediments. In the natural environment, antimicrobial compounds are likely to limit the growth of competitors, thereby offering a selective advantage to the producer, in particular when nutrients become limited and the developmental programme leading to spores commences. The study of the control of this secondary metabolism continues to offer insights into its integration with a complex lifecycle that takes multiple cues from the environment and primary metabolism. Such information can then be harnessed to devise laboratory screening conditions to discover compounds with new or improved clinical value. Here we provide an update of the review we published in NPR in 2011. Besides providing the essential background, we focus on recent developments in our understanding of the underlying regulatory networks, ecological triggers of natural product biosynthesis, contributions from comparative genomics and approaches to awaken the biosynthesis of otherwise silent or cryptic natural products. In addition, we highlight recent discoveries on the control of antibiotic production in other Actinobacteria, which have gained considerable attention since the start of the genomics revolution. New technologies that have the potential to produce a step change in our understanding of the regulation of secondary metabolism are also described.