Exploiting Biosynthetic Pathways in Fungi: Opportunities for Enhanced or Novel Production
Fungi have long been known to produce secondary metabolites, many having already been exploited as pharmaceuticals or as agrochemicals, however conventional screening for novel products declined in popularity over the last twenty years or so. With increased demand for novel antibiotics coupled with the recent revolutions in the ease of genome sequencing, there has been a resurgence in interest in fungi as sources of new compounds. Sequence data have highlighted numerous gene clusters with unknown products, suggesting an untapped reservoir of such products. Here we discuss the various approaches that have already been used to access these often cryptic metabolites. We consider the likely approaches that might be deployed in the near future to identify and exploit the full metabolic potential of fungi and discuss the possibility of using such enzymes to generate truly novel gene clusters for generating designer metabolites.