Cyanobacterial Natural Products

Principal Investigator:
Pedro Leão

The Cyanobacterial Natural Products research team studies the fascinating secondary metabolism of an important group of photosynthetic microbes: Cyanobacteria. Using a highly multidisciplinary approach, ranging from NMR spectroscopy to genome sequencing, and a blend of discovery- and hypothesis-based science, lab members investigate the chemistry, biosynthesis and ecology of cyanobacterial secondary metabolites. The team is also working on developing new methods to discover unprecedented compounds and enzymes from these organisms, a project funded by an ERC Starting Grant.

The novel compounds unearthed by the Cyanobacterial Natural Products team are evaluated in terms of biological activity, in particular their pharmacologically- and ecologically-relevant properties. These efforts are part of CIIMAR’s Blue Biotechnology effort to add value to the biological diversity found in our oceans.


Publications Highlights

Reis J.P.A., Figueiredo S.A.C., Sousa M.L., Leão P.N. (2020). BrtB is an O-alkylating enzyme that generates fatty acid-bartoloside esters. Nat Commun 11:1458. 

Martins T.P., Ramos V., Hentschke G.S., Castelo-Branco R., Rego A., Monteiro M., Brito Â., Tamagnini P., Cary S.C., Vasconcelos V., Krienitz L., Magalhães C., Leão P.N. (2020). The extremophile Endolithella mcmurdoensis gen. et sp. nov. (Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorellaceae), a new Chlorella-like endolithic alga from Antarctica. J Phycol 56(1):208-216.

Costa M., Sampaio-Dias I.E., Castelo-Branco R., Scharfenstein H., de Castro R.R., Silva A., Schneider M.P.C., Araújo M.J., Martins R., Domingues V.F., Nogueira F., Camões V., Vasconcelos V.M., Leão P.N. (2019). Structure of Hierridin C, Synthesis of Hierridins B and C, and Evidence for Prevalent Alkylresorcinol Biosynthesis in Picocyanobacteria. J Nat Prod 82(2):393-402. 

Martins T.P., Rouger C., Glasser N.R., Freitas S., de Fraissinette N.B., Balskus E.P., Tasdemir D., Leão P.N. (2019). Chemistry, bioactivity and biosynthesis of cyanobacterial alkylresorcinols. Nat Prod Rep 36(10):1437-1461. 

Martins J., Leikoski N., Wahlsten M., Azevedo J., Antunes J., Jokela J., Sivonen K., Vasconcelos V., Fewer D.P., Leão P.N. (2018). Sphaerocyclamide, a prenylated cyanobactin from the cyanobacterium Sphaerospermopsis sp. LEGE 00249. Sci Rep 8:14537.