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Review | Regular issue | Vol 78, No. 1, 2009, pp.1-17
Published online, 11th August, 2008
DOI: 10.3987/REV-08-637
Biologically Active Marine Natural Products

Kazuhiko Nakamura, Makoto Kitamura, and Daisuke Uemura*

*Department of Biosciences and Informatics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University, 3-14-1 Hiyoshi, Yokohama 223-8522, Japan


The discovery of new biologically active molecules contributes to the development of basic scientific concepts in the field of biological sciences. These compounds often lead to the development of valuable drugs, and to new pharmacological reagents. They also lead to a better understanding of ecological phenomena. Newly discovered substances can even be responsible for the creation of new scientific fields. Due to the radically different habitats of marine organisms, several notable examples of secondary metabolites from marine organisms have been isolated. Two of the most remarkable properties of these compounds are their structural and physiological diversities. Palytoxin is a polyol compound that shows extreme acute toxicity. Halichondrins are remarkable antitumor macrolides from sponge. Pinnatoxins, potent shellfish poisons, cause food poisoning. The compounds controlling the ecological behaviors of coral reveal to us a wonder of nature. And, the compounds produced by symbiotic microorganisms always inspire us by chemical interests. This paper describes bioorganic studies that are helping to develop new research fields.