Oregon State University

Research: Bioactive Natural Products from Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vent Organisms

A remote-operated submersible uses custom-built  syringe samplers to collect orange microbial mat and sediment from the bas

Oceans and Human Health

Bioactive Natural Products from Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vent Organisms (2010-12)

Mark Zabriskie
College of Pharmacy
Oregon State University
203 Pharmacy Bldg
Corvallis, OR 97331-3507
Phone: 541-737-5774
Fax: 541-737-3999
On the Web: Dr. Zabriskie's page at the  College of Pharmacy
Co-PI: Kerry McPhail, OSU College of Pharmacy

The escalating problem of drug resistance, especially in infectious diseases and cancer, requires a constant influx of new compounds to inspire the next generation of therapeutic agents. The marine environment has emerged as a key source of natural product drug leads. Screening unique organisms from rare or extreme ecosystems is a proven approach to discover novel compounds with important biological effects.

Deep-sea hydrothermal vents are among the most dynamic and extreme environments on Earth. Because unique invertebrate and microbial organisms inhabit the regions near these vents, there is a strong likelihood that new bioactive small-molecule natural products will be discovered, given that it is well established that chemical diversity is directly proportional to biological diversity.

The primary objective of Dr. Zabriskie’s project is to screen field-collected specimens of deep vent invertebrates and bacterial mats, and laboratory-cultured vent bacteria, for bioactive natural products that may serve as useful pharmacological tools and drug leads, especially for the treatment of infectious diseases.

Samples of deep-sea vent invertebrates and bacterial mats, either freshly collected or previously collected and stored frozen, are being obtained from collaborators in the PMEL/NOAA Vents program who access these deep ocean sites using manned and unmanned submersibles.

Achieving this objective will yield valuable knowledge about a new resource for biomedical research and will further our basic understanding of organisms that inhabit and interact in these extreme environments. This project will also associate additional scientific and economic value to these natural resources. It will also provide important outreach opportunities and serve as an educational platform for student trainees.

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Contact Info

Oregon Sea Grant
1600 SW Western Blvd
Suite 350
Corvallis OR 97333
Phone: 541-737-2714
FAX: 541-737-7958

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