Technical University of Dortmund, Germany
Even in the times of 'OMICS' with floods of genome and transcriptome data coming over us, scientists do not fully understand how to dig for new drug leads and how to use all data for a smart and lean drug discovery process. In principal, biologists have accumulated an enormous amount of information about medicinal plants and related metabolic secondary pathways. At the beginning of 2010s, OMIC technologies pushed plant cell fermentation to rational approaches. Plant secondary metabolites exhibit a variety of biological activities and therefore serve as valuable therapeutics. Employment of alternative routes with the same catalytic function but better performance, even from microorganisms which have never produced any plant metabolite are today common strategies. The potential of metabolic engineering to improve secondary natural product biosynthesis in a rational directed way by modulating individual steps has been demonstrated in the past, and we can expect in the near future revolutionary concepts. By far, not all plants and all metabolic pathways have been elucidated. Still, the number of unique chemical structures with exceptional pharmacological activity from plants is high. Nevertheless genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics together will also provide promising techniques for ethnobotany in the near future to characterize plants and will assist in the mining of the large data sets. The workshop on Natural Product Biotechnology wants to face these challenging future needs of synthetic biology and bioengineering to work out a road map of the exciting field of natural products from ethnobotany to modern biotechnology.