Natural products are among the most important sources of lead molecules for drug discovery. With the development of affordable whole-genome sequencing technologies and other ‘omics tools, the field of natural products research is currently undergoing a shift in paradigms. While, for decades, mainly analytical and chemical methods gave access to this group of compounds, nowadays genomics-based methods offer complementary approaches to find, identify and characterize such molecules. This paradigm shift also resulted in a high demand for computational tools to assist researchers in their daily work. In this context, this review gives a summary of tools and databases that currently are available to mine, identify and characterize natural product biosynthesis pathways and their producers based on ‘omics data. A web portal called Secondary Metabolite Bioinformatics Portal (SMBP at http://www.secondarymetabolites.org) is introduced to provide a one-stop catalog and links to these bioinformatics resources. In addition, an outlook is presented how the existing tools and those to be developed will influence synthetic biology approaches in the natural products field.
Bibliographical noteOpen Access funded by KeAi Communications Co. Under a Creative Commons license.
- Natural product