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Spatial Distribution of Collections Yielding Marine Natural Products

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posted on 09.10.2018, 14:49 authored by Peter P. Principe, William S. Fisher
The societal benefits of coral reef ecosystems include shoreline protection, habitat provision for reef fish, tourism, and recreation. Rarely considered in valuation of reefs is the considerable contribution of marine natural products (MNPs) to both human health and the economy. To better understand the relation of MNP discovery with the characteristics and condition of coral reef ecosystems, we initiated a study to track the collection location and taxonomic identity of organisms that have provided pharmacological products. We reviewed collection information and associated data from 298 pharmacological products originating from marine biota during the past 47 years. The products were developed from 232 different marine species representing 15 phyla, and the 1296 collections of these specimens occurred across 69 countries and seven continents. Our evaluation of the collection data was hampered by sundry observational and reporting issues, including imprecise location descriptions and omission of collection dates. Nonetheless, the study provides an important synopsis and appraisal of years of study and exploration by the marine natural product community. Understanding and quantifying the benefits of MNP discovery will depend upon improved reporting of collections, including accurate taxonomic identification, collection dates, and locations.