Some of the most successful drugs have come from microorganisms cultured from the environment - airborne spores landing on culture plates, soil samples, and the like. Thus it is no surprise that companies should return to the earth for drug discovery. However, many if not most environmental microorganisms are uncultivable, requiring other means of extracting the potential pharmaceutical information they contain.

While other companies have turned to combinatorial chemistry as an alternative to provide compound libraries, TerraGen Diversity Inc. has developed methods for using unculturable organisms as sources for drug discovery.