Review Article

Chemistry and bioactivity of secondary metabolites from South China Sea marine fauna and flora: recent research advances and perspective

Jiao Liu1,2, Yu-cheng Gu3, Ming-zhi Su4, Yue-wei Guo1,2,4
1 State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201203, China
2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3 Syngenta, Jealott’s Hill International Research Centre, Bracknell, Berkshire RG42 6EY, UK
4 Shandong Laboratory of Yantai Drug Discovery, Bohai Rim Advanced Research Institute for Drug Discovery, Yantai 264117, China
Correspondence to: Ming-zhi Su:, Yue-wei Guo:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-022-00980-w
Received: 10 June 2022
Accepted: 9 August 2022
Advance online: 14 September 2022


Marine organisms often produce a variety of metabolites with unique structures and diverse biological activities that enable them to survive and struggle in the extremely challenging environment. During the last two decades, our group devoted great effort to the discovery of pharmaceutically interesting lead compounds from South China Sea marine plants and invertebrates. We discovered numerous marine secondary metabolites spanning a wide range of structural classes, various biosynthetic origins and various aspects of biological activities. In a series of reviews, we have summarized the bioactive natural products isolated from Chinese marine flora and fauna found during 2000–2012. The present review provides an updated summary covering our latest research progress and development in the last decade (2012–2022) highlighting the discovery of over 400 novel marine secondary metabolites with promising bioactivities from South China Sea marine organisms.
Keywords: marine natural products; biological activity; marine flora; sponges; soft corals; mollusks

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