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Marine Pharmacognosy

The aim with this program is to create a strong multidisciplinary research environment for the discovery of new bioactive molecules from the sea with applications in pharmaceutical drug-design, diagnostic substances, control of fouling organisms on man-made structures, biotech tools, selective baits, biosensors, industrial process catalysts and functional foods. Bioprospecting for new molecules and materials in marine systems is in its infancy. The sea hosts the richest diversity of life-forms and offers a largely untapped source of molecules with unknown physiological and ecological functions. Much of previous research and bioprospecting have used indiscriminate screening for biogenic molecules with tests for bioactivity with simplistic test systems. Instead, we here use a “process line” of ecologically-guided search for compounds through studies of physiology and organism interactions coupled to identification of target molecules guided by in vivo assays followed by chemical characterization and new synthetic strategies.

The program in marine pharmacognosy is based on marine chemical ecology, pharmacology and chemical synthetic strategies to discover chemically-mediated interactions and to isolate, characterize and assess effects of bioactive molecules. By joining four strong within-discipline themes we aim at a project structure that solves the complex task of efficient search for novel bioactive molecules. At present, we carry out research within four areas including ecological research on chemical defence in marine plants and animals, pharmacological research on receptor-ligand effects and chemical characterization, physiological and molecular research on systemic functions of bioactive molecules in natural systems, and synthetic strategies in drug design.

The program Marine Pharmacognosy is a collaboration between Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory, Dept. of Marine Ecology at Göteborg University, Dept. of Medicinal Chemistry, Division of Pharmacognosy at Uppsala University, and Dept. of Biosciences at Novum, Karolinska Institutet.

Contact person:
Per Jonsson


Areas of interest:

  • Chemical defence in marine organisms against marine fouling and other attacks
  • Settlement of marine larvae and pores with focus on signal / receptor-system
  • Toxic algae blooms: Induced signals and also physiological effects and adaptations in mussels
  • Effect of environmental changes on chemical signal systems and the production of chemical defence molecules (stress indicators)

Projects within Marine Pharmacognosy at TMBL

  • New cyclopeptides in a marine sponge with chemical defence activities: Contact persons: Martin Sjögren, Per Jonsson, Jan Bergman, Lars Bohlin
    The objective of this project is to identify compounds produced by sponges involved in putative chemical defence against predators and foulers. Guided by in vivo bioassays, highly bioactive molecules are fractionated with HPLC, and characterized using LC-MS and NMR. Two interesting cyclopeptides have been identified within the project which show chemical defence action against foulers. Using new synthetic strategies these compounds have been produced synthetically together with a range of analogs, which are being used to explore the mode of action, e.g. ligand-receptor interactions. Several of the compounds are investigated as possible leads for different applications, e.g. as antifouling agents in marine paints.
  • Chemical communication and inducible defences in marine macroalgae. Contact person Gunilla Toth
  • Inducible chemical defences in seaweeds: selective agents mechanisms and consequences. Contact person Henrik Pavia
  • Toxic marine microalgae: the ecological impact of algal toxins. Contact persons: Erik Selander, Per Jonsson, Henrik Pavia
  • Project title
    Contact person: Mia Dahlström

Running PhD programs within Marine Pharmacognosy at TMBL

  1. "Title coming soon". Erik Hedner, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Division of Pharmacognosy , Uppsala University
  2. "A new cyclopeptide in a marine sponge with chemical defence activities". Martin Sjögren, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Division of Pharmacognosy , Uppsala University, supervisor Lars Bohlin.

Honours projects related to Marine Pharmacognosy at TMBL
(in Swedish)
 

Industrial interest and regional effects
In the long run several positive spin-offs are expected both on local and regional level. Research and development on bioactive substances in marine organisms have a great potential for establishment and development of biotechnical companies based on new discoveries and innovations.

Networks

Facilities

Persons active within Marine Pharmacognosy at TMBL

  1. Prof. Lars Bohlin, PI, Dept Medicinal Chemistry, Division of Pharmacognosy, Uppsala University
  2. Prof. Per Jonsson, PI, Dept Marine Ecology, Göteborg University
  3. Dr. Mia Dahlström, Dept Marine Ecology, Göteborg University
  4. Dr. Ulf Göransson, Dept Medicinal Chemistry, Division of Pharmacognosy, Uppsala University
  5. PhD student Erik Hedner, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Division of Pharmacognosy , Uppsala University
  6. PhD student Martin Sjögren, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Division of Pharmacognosy , Uppsala University 
  7. Research Ass. Malin Karlsson, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory
  8. Research Ass. Martin Ogemark, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory

Collaborating partners

  1. Prof. Jan Bergman, Dept Biosciences at Novum, Karolinska Institute
  2. Assoc. Prof. Henrik Pavia, Dept Marine Ecology, Göteborg University
  3. Dr. Gunnar Cervin, Dept Marine Ecology, Göteborg University
  4. Dr. Gunilla Toth, Dept Marine Ecology, Göteborg University
  5. PhD student Göran Nylund, Dept Marine Ecology, Göteborg University
  6. PhD student Erik Selander, Dept Marine Ecology, Göteborg University

Other web sites of interest:

Contact person:
Per Jonsson

Delfinansierat av EUs strukturfond,
Regionala utvecklingsfonden (ERUF).

Internal pages the Chemical Ecology working group
(in Swedish)

Last updated 040917, Eva.Marie.Rodstrom@tmbl.gu.se