High-tech ways to scan nature’s own creations.
Pharmaceutical companies focus on small molecules they've devised – and can easily patent. But nature's already come up with many antibacterial compounds that drug designers could use to make medicines.
Polysaccharide molecules such as cellulose, seen here, are long chains of sugars that are very hard to break apart. Enzymes – proteins that can degrade polysaccharides – have many industrial uses.
Bio-prospecting is the search for useful materials from natural sources. A biologist explains what we can learn from bacteria about breaking down plant material, and how we can use that knowledge.
Ababil Wings SS / shutterstock
We have barely begun to tap into the pharmaceutical potential of the most diverse animals of all.
Harvesting rooibos in South Africa’s Suid Bokkeveld.
Good models have been developed to ensure benefit sharing in the biodiversity business. But major challenges prevent developing countries from translating this into social justice.
The next cancer breakthrough could be found in international waters – but who's in charge of the high seas?
How scientists and corporations are plundering the developing world for new substances.