On the origin of antibiotics and mycotoxins

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Antibiotics and mycotoxins share many remarkable similarities in structure, metabolic roles and biosynthesis, indicating their differences are primarily in the minds and economies of man, not the perspectives of producing organisms. Antibiotic/mycotoxin biosynthetic gene packages appear to have been assembled by transposon-mediated processes combining genes acquired horizontally from plants and other soil microbes with genes from the producing organism'-s own genome. Probable gene sources include those for the synthesis and secretion of plant phytoalexins, toxins, allelochemicals, pheromones, germination inhibitors and pigments, and bacterial quorum-sensors and siderophores. Understanding antibiotic origins may assist in the discovery and creation of new antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-30
Number of pages25
JournalToxin Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research on antibiotics in the author’s laboratory has been supported by a Grant-in-Aid from the Graduate School, University of Minnesota.

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biosynthesis
  • active efflux protein
  • allelochemical
  • phytoalexin
  • siderophore
  • transposon


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