Bioactive compounds produced by cyanobacteria


Cyanobacteria produce a large number of compounds with varying bioactivities. Prominent among these are toxins: hepatotoxins such as microcystins and nodularins and neurotoxins such as anatoxins and saxitoxins. Cytotoxicity to tumor cells has been demonstrated for other cyanobacterial products, including 9-deazaadenosine, dolastatin 13 and analogs. A number of compounds in cyanobacteria are inhibitors of proteases — micropeptins, cyanopeptolins, oscillapeptin, microviridin, aeruginosins- and other enzymes, while still other compounds have no recognized biological activities. In general cyclic peptides and depsipeptides are the most common structural types, but a wide variety of other types are also found: linear peptides, guanidines, phosphonates, purines and macrolides. The close similarity or identity in structures between cyanobacterial products and compounds isolated from sponges, tunicates and other marine invertebrates suggests the latter compounds may be derived from dietary or symbiotic blue-green algae.


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Namikoshi, M., Rinehart, K. Bioactive compounds produced by cyanobacteria. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology 17, 373–384 (1996).

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  • cyanobacteria
  • blue-green algae
  • toxins
  • enzyme inhibitors
  • peptides