Fluorescent natural products as probes and tracers in biology
Covering: 1985 up to the end of 2016
Fluorescence is a remarkable property of many natural products in addition to their medicinal and biological values. Herein, we provide a review on these peculiar secondary metabolites to stimulate prospecting of them as original fluorescent tracers, endowed with unique photophysical properties and with applications in most fields of biology. The compounds are spectrally categorized (i.e. fluorescing from violet to the near infra-red) and further structurally classified within each category. Natural products selected for their high impact in modern fluorescence-based biological studies are highlighted throughout the article. Finally, we discuss aspects of chemical ecology where fluorescent natural products might have key evolutionary roles and thus open new research directions in the field.