A wide variety of bacteria, fungi and plants can produce bioactive secondary metabolites, which are often referred to as natural products. With the rapid development of DNA sequencing technology and bioinformatics, a large number of putative biosynthetic gene clusters have been reported. However, only a few natural products can be detected when isolated species are grown under conventional laboratory conditions, as most biosynthetic gene clusters are not expressed or are expressed at extremely low levels at these conditions. With the rapid development of synthetic biology, advanced genome mining and modification strategies have been reported, and they provide new opportunities for discovery of natural products. This review discusses advances in recent years that can accelerate the design, build, test, and learn (DBTL) cycle of natural product discovery, and prospects trends and key challenges for future research directions.
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