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Biodiscovery (also referred to as bioprospecting) is a form of prospecting, but instead of looking for gold, biodiscoverers are looking for something of value in biological material. In more formal terms and taking a broad view, biodiscovery is the search for and gathering of biological material that will then be examined for features of potential value.

The discussion document, Bioprospecting: Harnessing Benefits for New Zealand, has the following working definition for biodiscovery:

“Biodiscovery (or Bioprospecting) is the collection of biological material and the analysis of its material properties, or its molecular, biochemical or genetic content, for the purpose of developing a commercial product. Bioprospecting policy excludes the later steps in the chain of product development”.  

Biological material for biodiscovery activities comes from one of two main sources: directly from its natural environment (e.g. terrestrial, freshwater or marine ecosystems), or from a collection (e.g. a zoo, an aquarium collection).


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Last updated 20 June 2015