Metabolomics identifies the building blocks of pharmacologically active metabolites in marine invertebrates and its microbial symbionts

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Marine invertebrates harbour microorganisms that include bacteria, cyanobacteria
and fungi within their tissues and in some cases these associated microorganisms
may constitute up to 40% of their biomass. A number of pharmacologically active
sponge natural products have been found to be structurally related to microbial
metabolites. One example is ecteinascidin (ET-743) which was first isolated from the tunicate Ecteinascidia turbinata. The structure of ET-743 reveals striking similarities to safracin B, a metabolite of Pseudomonas fluorescens. ET-743 is commercially available as Yondelis® or under the generic name trabectedin and is used for the treatment of undifferentiated uterine sarcoma in women. To date, Yondelis® is made feasibly available through biotechnological methods and partial synthesis. Renieramycin is an analogue of ET-743 which was obtained from sponges Reniera and Xestospongia. Building blocks have also been isolated from these sponge genera. Sponges become fermenter vessels for the microorganism to produce these interesting metabolites. Through tools of metabolomics and genomics, the production of other novel drugs can be optimised to solve and come up with a sustainable solution to address the supply problem. Recently, we have applied metabolomics to screen for potential new antibiotics from sponge-derived microorganisms collected from under-investigated and under-exploited marine habitats of a geographic distance of more than 10,000 km coastline of Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Event6th International Conference of the Metabolomics Society - Rai, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 27 Jun 20101 Jul 2010


Conference6th International Conference of the Metabolomics Society


  • marine invertebrates
  • microbial metabolites
  • ecteinascidin
  • ET-743
  • Pseudomonas fluorescens
  • sponge-derived microorganisms


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