Bacterial Pathogens: Threat or Treat? (a review on bioactive natural products from bacterial pathogens)

Fleurdeliz Maglangit* (Corresponding Author), Yi Yu* (Corresponding Author), Hai Deng* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Threat or treat? While pathogenic bacteria pose significant threats, they also represent a huge reservoir of potential pharmaceuticals to treat various diseases. The alarming antimicrobial resistance crisis and the dwindling clinical pipeline urgently call for the discovery and development of new antibiotics. Pathogenic bacteria have an enormous potential for natural products drug discovery, yet they remained untapped and understudied. Herein, we review the specialised metabolites isolated from entomopathogenic, phytopathogenic, and human pathogenic bacteria with antibacterial and antifungal activities, highlighting those currently in pre-clinical trials or with potential for drug development. Selected unusual biosynthetic pathways, the key roles they play (where known) in various ecological niches are described. We also provide an overview of the mode of action (molecular target), activity, and minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) towards bacteria and fungi. The exploitation of pathogenic bacteria as a rich source of antimicrobials, combined with the recent advances in genomics and natural products research methodology, could pave the way for a new golden age of antibiotic discovery. This review should serve as a compendium to communities of medicinal chemists, organic chemists, natural product chemists, biochemists, clinical researchers, and many others interested in the subject.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-821
Number of pages40
JournalNatural Product Reports
Issue number4
Early online date29 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note


F.M. thanks the University of the Philippines for the Faculty, Reps and Staff Development Program (FRASDP) for the Ph.D. grant fellowship. H.D. thanks the financial supports of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council UK (BB/P00380X/1, BB/R00479X/1 and BB/R50547X/1). H.D. and Y.Y. thank the Royal Society-NSFC Newton Mobility Grant Award (IEC\NSFC\170617). Y.Y. thanks the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31870035, 31570033, and 31811530299). We thank Dr Kirstie Rickaby (University of Aberdeen) for help with collection of literatures in the beginning of the manuscript preparation.


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