The major objective in this research area is to determine the role played by the natural products isolated from the organisms in order to develop new applications related to its function.
We are trying to develop new antifouling compounds through collaboration with the research group heading by Carmenza Duque and Leonardo Castellanos from National University of Colombia at Bogota. Thus, we were the first to isolate and identify a substance produced by an excavating sponge Cliona tenuis, clionapyrrolidine A, which is able to kill coral tissue upon contact. Also, we have isolated and characterized several cembranoids from octocoral Pseudoplexaura flagellosa with potent antifouling properties.
Moreover, we are searching for new antifungal compounds following a similar strategy. We are studying, through collaboration with Dr Unai Ugalde research group from University of the Basque Country at San Sebastián, the mechanism involving molecules that signal to the fungi (Aspergillus nudilans as a model) when the time is right to sporulate. We have found that the combination of dehydroaustinol and diorcinol sent the spore-making signal. Compounds that inhibit these signaling molecules could represent a novel avenue to chemically control fungal pathogens.