An interesting article on the challenges and opportunities of discovering antibiotics (and other small molecules) in the 21st century. If you only have time for the summary:
My point is that bioactive small molecules are critical to life. It has been suggested that they should be ranked equal in importance with the dogmatic three: DNA, RNA and protein. There must be an enormous number of different small molecules in nature, waiting to developed and used to our advantage. We have to do a better job of finding these intriguing molecules, determining their structures, and developing ways of identifying their beneficial functions. This is an enormous task and, obviously, it cannot be left to the pharmaceutical industry alone. However the industry and government could combine to fund the innovative academic research that is required to make sure that the compounds and their uses are found.