Some marine ecological phenomena: chemical basis and biomedical potential

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Science  13 Apr 1990:
Vol. 248, Issue 4952, pp. 173-177
DOI: 10.1126/science.2183350


Analysis of secondary metabolites derived from marine organisms has revealed a broad spectrum of novel molecular architecture. The function of these compounds in their natural habitat is linked to various aspects of species survival, and the compounds have also served as characteristic chemical markers through successive trophic levels. Fundamental questions concerning the locus of synthesis in complex and intricate assemblies of plants and animals and the pathways of biosynthesis are beginning to be answered. It is now apparent that the marine environment gives rise to some distinctive chemistry, which is generated along characteristic pathways. Some of the newly described compounds have already become valuable tools in biomedicine.

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