Marine Organisms as Sources of Novel Agrochemicals
Marine organisms produce a tremendous variety of unique chemical structures, many with no counterparts in terrestrial plants, or animals. An unusually high percentage of these compounds exhibit substantial pharmacological activity-significant in antimicrobial and antitumor properties. Because marine species have developed many of these compounds to protect against predation, microbial infection and overgrowth by competitors, they may also prove useful in analogous situations in agriculture.
John Cardellina and Fred Singleton have been collecting marine organisms and extracting and screening extracts for inhibition of plant pathogens, phytotoxicity, plant growth regulation, seed germination inhibition and insecticidal activity. They are working to isolate and identify the active constituents from these extracts and to evaluate their activity. This project has already identified a number of plant growth regulators, phytotoxins, antimicrobials, insecticides and cytotoxins, while preliminary screening results indicate bioactivity in extracts from marine bacterial cultures.
As this work advances, collaboration with a pharmaceutical corporation will provide an avenue for further testing and eventual use of these compounds in medicine or agriculture.
John H. Cardellina II
Fred L. Singleton
Center of Marine Biotechnology
University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute