Molluscan Natural Products as Biological Models: Chemical Ecology, Histology, and Laboratory Culture

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Abstract

The utility of some natural products from molluscs has been known for centuries. However, only recently have modern technologies and advances in the fields of chemistry, chemical ecology, anatomy, histology, and laboratory culture allowed the exploitation of new, unprecedented applications of natural products. Recent studies have dealt with (a) the role that these compounds have in the sea in protecting the animals (e.g., chemical defense), or in mediating their intraspecific communication (e.g., pheromones), (b) the geographical differences in similar or related species (and the implications of this in chemical ecology and phylogeny), and (c) the localization of these metabolites in molluscan tissues (by means of the most modern technologies), among others. The methodology for the laboratory culture of some species has also been established, thus offering new insights into this interesting field. Further applications of all these challenging studies are currently being developed.