skip to main content

New bioreporter approach increases chances of discovering unknown bioactive compounds

30.03.2021 CMFI News

A big challenge in natural product research of today is rapid identification and exclusion of already known substances to free capacities for the exploration of new agents. Prompt information on bioactivities and mode of action (MOA) is required for rational compound optimization. It can also enable focusing on the isolation of compounds with unknown MOA, thus increasing the chances of discovering new chemical entities.

This idea led the team of Cluster of Excellence CMFI scientist Heike Brötz-Oesterhelt to develop a new bioreporter toolbox. The team of CMFI scientist Stephanie Grond performed state-of-the-art chemical analytics in the proof-of-concept study. The project was conducted in collaboration with the research group of Yvonne Mast at the Leibniz-Institute DSMZ–German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures and the study was mainly funded by the German Center of Infection Research (DZIF).

The bioreporter approach allows MOA-informed primary screening of bioactive compounds produced by a given strain without the need for initial compound enrichment or purification. The method is cost-effective, straightforward, and applicable along the entire purification pipeline. It works well with producer strains grown on agar, culture supernatants, extracts, fractions, and pure substances.


Combined with high-resolution methods in chemical analytics, the bioreporter technology adds a new dimension to the screening and purification process, which facilitates and speeds-up compound identification. A fraction of an agar plate with a producer strain often yields enough material to identify a known compound, which can then be deprioritized.

The bioreporter approach also detects when a producer strain synthesizes more than one antibiotic or if a single agent has more than one MOA. It immediately informs about the metabolic pathway inhibited, enabling the selection of focused follow-up assays to elucidate the molecular target.


Wex K W, Saur J S, Handel F, Ortlieb N, Mokeev VKulik A, Niedermeyer T H J, Mast Y, Grond S, Berscheid A, Brötz-Oesterhelt H.
Bioreporters for direct mode of action-informed screening of antibiotic producer strains.
CellChemBio (2021), doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.02.022.

Press Contact

Leon Kokkoliadis
Public Relations Management

Tel: +49 7071 29-74707

Looking for an expert?

Our CMFI PIs are experts in their fields. Please feel free to contact them directly.

CMFI Members

If you need help finding the right contact person, please reach out to us.

Related Articles

"How antidepressants help bacteria resist antibiotics"
24.01.2023 "How antidepressants help bacteria resist antibiotics" In the Media


How gut bacteria evade the immune system
06.01.2023 How gut bacteria evade the immune system Press Release
Finding a peptide drug against MRSA
22.12.2022 Finding a peptide drug against MRSA CMFI News
Tübingen Environmental Researcher Lars Angenent Receives the Leibniz Prize
08.12.2022 Tübingen Environmental Researcher Lars Angenent Receives the Leibniz Prize Press Release
Lars Angenent appointed ISMET Fellow
07.12.2022 Lars Angenent appointed ISMET Fellow CMFI News
"Was ist eine Genomdatenbank?"
07.12.2022 "Was ist eine Genomdatenbank?" In the Media

Der Code des Lebens