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 particularly focused on studying compounds that contain fatty-acid residues and on the unusual enzymes that modify them, and on the discovery of secondary metabolites using genome-informed strategies.

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

Eusébio, N., Castelo-Branco, R., Sousa, D., Preto, M., D’Agostino, P., Gulder, T.A.M., Leão, P.N. (2022) Discovery and Heterologous Expression of Microginins from Microcystis aeruginosa LEGE 91341. ACS Synth Biol 11(10):3493-3503.   

Martins, T.P., Glasserm, N.R., Kountz, D.J., Oliveira, P., Balskus, E.P., Leão, P.N. (2022) Biosynthesis of the Unusual Carbon Skeleton of Nocuolin A. ACS Chem Biol, 17(9):2528-2537.  

Figueiredo, S.A.C., Preto, M., Moreira, G., Martins, T.P., Abt, K., Melo, A., Vasconcelos, V.M., Leão, P.N. (2021). Discovery of Cyanobacterial Natural Products Containing Fatty Acid Residues. Angew Chem Int Ed 60(18):10064.  


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.