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Natural product discovery in soil actinomycetes: unlocking their potential within an ecological context.

Natural products (NPs) produced by bacteria, particularly soil actinomycetes, often possess diverse bioactivities and play a crucial role in human health, agriculture, and biotechnology. Soil actinomycete genomes contain a vast number of predicted biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) yet to be exploited. Understanding the factors governing NP production in an ecological context and activating cryptic and silent BGCs in soil actinomycetes will provide researchers with a wealth of molecules with potential novel applications. Here, we highlight recent advances in NP discovery strategies employing ecology-inspired approaches and discuss the importance of understanding the environmental signals responsible for activation of NP production, particularly in a soil microbial community context, as well as the challenges that remain.

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