Marine Microorganism-Invertebrate Assemblages: Perspectives to Solve the “Supply Problem” in the Initial Steps of Drug Discovery

M.C. Leal, C. Sheridan, R. Osinga, G. Dionisio, R.J.M. Rocha, B. Silva, R. Rosa, R. Calado

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31 Citations (Scopus)


The chemical diversity associated with marine natural products (MNP) is unanimously acknowledged as the “blue gold” in the urgent quest for new drugs. Consequently, a significant increase in the discovery of MNP published in the literature has been observed in the past decades, particularly from marine invertebrates. However, it remains unclear whether target metabolites originate from the marine invertebrates themselves or from their microbial symbionts. This issue underlines critical challenges associated with the lack of biomass required to supply the early stages of the drug discovery pipeline. The present review discusses potential solutions for such challenges, with particular emphasis on innovative approaches to culture invertebrate holobionts (microorganism-invertebrate assemblages) through in toto aquaculture, together with methods for the discovery and initial production of bioactive compounds from these microbial symbionts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3929-3952
JournalMarine Drugs
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • coral sinularia-flexibilis
  • bioactive natural-products
  • sponge halisarca-caerulea
  • soft coral
  • scleractinian corals
  • sustainable production
  • bacterial communities
  • metabolite production
  • future perspectives
  • reef conservation

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