Natural products mediating ecological interactions in Antarctic benthic communities: a mini-review of the known molecules†
Covering: up to the end of 2014
Out of the many bioactive compounds described from the oceans, only a small fraction have been studied for their ecological significance. Similarly, most chemically mediated interactions are not well understood, because the molecules involved remain unrevealed. In Antarctica, this gap in knowledge is even more acute in comparison to tropical or temperate regions, even though polar organisms are also prolific producers of chemical defenses, and pharmacologically relevant products are being reported from the Southern Ocean. The extreme and unique marine environments surrounding Antarctica along with the numerous unusual interactions taking place in benthic communities are expected to select for novel functional secondary metabolites. There is an urgent need to comprehend the evolutionary role of marine derived substances in general, and particularly at the Poles, since molecules of keystone significance are vital in species survival, and therefore, in structuring the communities. Here we provide a mini-review on the identified marine natural products proven to have an ecological function in Antarctic ecosystems. This report recapitulates some of the bibliography from original Antarctic reviews, and updates the new literature in the field from 2009 to the present.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Chemical Ecology