Photosynthetic marine organisms as a source of anticancer compounds

F. Folmer, M. Jaspars, M. Dicato, M. Diederich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Since early human history, plants have served as the most important source of medicinal natural products, and even in the "synthetic age" the majority of lead compounds for pharmaceutical development remain of plant origin. In the marine realm, algae and seagrasses were amongst the first organisms investigated by marine natural products scientists on their quest for novel pharmaceutical compounds. Forty years after the pioneering work in the field of marine drug discovery began, the biodiversity of marine organisms investigated as potential sources of anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic compounds has increased tremendously. Nonetheless, marine plants are still an important source of novel secondary metabolites with interesting biomedical properties. The present review focuses on the antitumour properties of compounds isolated from marine algae, phytoplankton, mangroves, seagrasses, or cordgrasses. Compounds produced by marine epi- or endophytic fungi are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-579
Number of pages23
JournalPhytochemistry reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • Cancer
  • Marine plants
  • Natural products
  • Phytoplankton
  • Symbionts


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