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Chembiochem. 2006 Feb;7(2):229-38.

Natural products from marine organisms and their associated microbes.

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Institute for Pharmaceutical Biology, University of Bonn, Nussallee 6, 53115 Bonn, Germany.


The marine environment is distinguished by unique groups of organisms being the source of a wide array of fascinating structures. The enormous biodiversity of marine habitats is mirrored by the molecular diversity of secondary metabolites found in marine animals, plants and microbes. The recognition that many marine invertebrates contain endo- and epibiotic microorganisms and that some invertebrate-derived natural products are structurally related to bacterial metabolites suggests a microbial origin for some of these compounds. Other marine natural products, however, are clearly located in invertebrate tissue and microbial involvement in the biosynthetic process seems unlikely. The complexity of associations in marine organisms, especially in sponges, bryozoans and tunicates, makes it extremely difficult to definitively state the biosynthetic source of many marine natural products or to deduce their ecological significance. Whereas many symbiotic marine microorganisms cannot be isolated and cultured, numerous epi- and endobiotic marine fungi produce novel secondary metabolites in laboratory cultures. The potent biological activity of many marine natural products is of relevance for their ecological function but is also the basis of their biomedical importance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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