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

Dias F., Antunes J.T., Ribeiro T., Azevedo J., Vasconcelos V., Leão P.N. 2017. Cyanobacterial allelochemicals but not cyanobacterial cells markedly reduce microbial community diversity. Front. Microbiol.

Afonso T.B., Costa M.S., Rezende de Castro R., Freitas S., Silva A., Schneider M.P.C., Martins R., Leão P.N. 2016. Bartolosides E-K from a Marine Coccoid Cyanobacterium. J. Nat. Prod., 79: 2504-2513.

Costa M.S., Rego A., Ramos V., Afonso T.B., Freitas S., Preto M., Lopes V., Vasconcelos V., Magalhães C., Leão P.N. 2016. The conifer biomarkers dehydroabietic and abietic acids are widespread in Cyanobacteria. Sci. Rep., 6: 23436.

Leão P.N., Nakamura H., Costa M., Pereira A.R., Martins R., Vasconcelos V., Gerwick W.H., Balskus E.P. 2015. Biosynthesis-assisted structural elucidation of the bartolosides, chlorinated aromatic glycolipids from Cyanobacteria. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 54(38): 11063-7.

Leão P.N., Pereira A.R., Liu W.-T., Ng J., Pevzner P.A., Dorrestein P.C., König G.M., Vasconcelos V.M., Gerwick W.H. 2010. Synergistic allelochemicals from a freshwater cyanobacterium. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A, 107(25): 11183-11188.