, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 43-52

The ecology of antibiotic production

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Abstract

Over the last 40 years, there has been a steady supply of novel, useful antibiotics produced by microbes isolated from soil and other natural environments. The increased efficiency of screening procedures in the last decade has played a major part in maintaining this supply. However, the selection and sampling of natural environments are still essentially random processes. The main reasons for this are an almost total lack of knowledge of the significance of antibiotics in nature, deficiencies in the taxonomy of antibiotic-producing microbes and its application, and lack of information about the distribution and ecology of known or potential antibiotic producers. The origins of these problems are discussed and some possible solutions are suggested.