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Adv Appl Microbiol. 1997;43:57-90.

Marine microorganisms as a source of new natural products.

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Wyeth-Ayerst Research, Natural Products Research, Pearl River, New York 10965, USA.


Over the past decade, marine microorganisms have become recognized as an important and untapped resource for novel bioactive compounds. The oceans cover greater than 70% of the earth's surface and, taking this into account by volume, represent better than 95% of the biosphere. Given this fact, the oceans present themselves as an unexplored area of opportunity for the discovery of pharmacologically active compounds. In this review, data have been presented to illustrate the diversity of microorganisms living in the sea and the plethora of chemical compounds that have been discovered from them. However, it is important to pursue basic research on the marine environment in order to permit the continued isolation of unique microorganisms. There is still limited knowledge of the physiological requirements of most marine microorganisms, and a greater understanding of their conditions for growth will offer new insights into the complex world of marine microbiology. Clearly, a greater investment in the development of marine biotechnology will produce novel compounds that may contribute significantly toward drug development over the next decade.

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