History of Secondary Metabolites: From Ancient Myths to Modern Scientific Validation Chapter uri icon


  • The authors are grateful to the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) for financial support through national funds FCT/MCTES to the CIMO (UIDB/00690/ 2020). M.C. Pedrosa thanks FCT for her PhD grant (2021.04531.BD), M. Carocho thanks FCT for their individual scientific contract (CEEC-IND/00831/2018). C.L. Roriz thanks the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Competitiveness and Internationalization Operational Program for financial support to the project 100% Figo (POCI-01-0247-FEDER-064977). L. Barros thanks FCT through the institutional scientific employment contract.
  • The study of primary plant metabolism has been the main focus of scientists for several years, seconding research related to the secondary metabolism. Nowadays, with the better understanding of the processes and products involved in primary metabolism, the focus has switched to the expansion of knowledge involving secondary metabolism. Initially, plants were the focus of secondary metabolite studies due to their ease of acquisition and availability, reasons for being a term coined by plant physiologists. Only in the twentieth century has the secondary metabolites from microorganisms began to be recognized and investigated due to the value that these metabolites could bring to science. Not by chance, it was in the twentieth century that the era of antibiotics began. In this chapter, a voyage through the centuries is proposed, focused on secondary metabolism and metabolites, highlighting how they shifted from disregarded molecules to the powerhouses of bioactivity for modern science.

publication date

  • 2023