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Ecological roles of natural products of the Brazilian red seaweed Laurencia obtusa

Author(s): Pereira R. C. | da Gama B. A. P. | Teixeira V. L. | Yoneshigue-Valentin Y.

Journal: Brazilian Journal of Biology
ISSN 1519-6984

Volume: 63;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 665;
Date: 2003;
Original page

Keywords: natural products | Laurencia obtusa | chemical defense | herbivory | fouling

Laboratory and field experiments were performed to assess the ecological roles of natural products produced by the Brazilian red seaweed Laurencia obtusa. Laboratory assays revealed that the natural concentration of the crude organic extract of L. obtusa significantly inhibited feeding by two herbivores: the crab Pachygrapsus transversus and the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. It was verified that this chemically defensive action was due to halogenated sesquiterpenoid elatol, found to be the major natural product of this red seaweed. In addition, it was verified that the antifouling property of the chemicals produced by L. obtusa could make this red alga less attractive for fish grazing. Direct protection against two herbivore species and indirect protection against herbivory by fouling inibition constitute evidence that the major natural product from Brazilian L. obtusa plays multiple environmental roles, thereby increasing the adaptive value of these metabolites. On the other hand, the evidence reinforces the idea that marine natural products may have different functions in the sea.
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