Dinoflagellates Important Marine Producers of Natural Bio-Compounds with High Biotechnological and Pharmacological Potential

Lydia Ferrara



Microalgae are unicellular photosynthetic organisms that can produce organic carbon from CO2 using sunlight energy and for their ability to fix atmospheric carbon in organic compounds are considered primary producers in the marine food chain, plankton. The various aquatic species that feed on plankton can represent, due to the incidence of numerous factors, the basis for the proliferation of pathogenic microorganisms and the production of biotoxins, known as phycotoxins, which have attracted the attention of researchers not only for their complex chemical structure and for various pharmacological activities (cytotoxic, anti cancer, antifungicide, antibiotic, etc…), but also for their ability to modify and activate important metabolic pathways. These biomolecules, thanks to the remarkable reproductive speed, formed the substrate to study and understand complex cellular functions, with important effects on human health. Dinoflagellates are microscopic, unicellular, flagellated algae, which represent one of the most important groups of marine phytoplankton and freshwater and in addition to the Red Tide phenomenon are responsible for the production of highly toxic biotoxins. Important human poisonings occur as a result of the ingestion of bivalve shellfish due to their ability to filter water and, consequently, accumulate pollutants in their body. Some microalgae are able to produce ichthyotoxins that, by acting on gills, can cause prolonged death of fish, and which, if consumed by humans, can lead to serious health risks. Dinoflagellates have attracted the attention of researchers because of the possibility of beneficial use of their metabolites: glycolipids containing polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered molecules responsible for allelopathic effects and therefore these algae are exploited by agronomists in the cultivation of terrestrial plants. Tetradotoxin, although a very toxic molecule, has proven to be important for knowledge of nerve transmission; exerts anesthetic action to block sodium channels; relieves cranial symptoms in cases of heroin withdrawal. Goniautotoxins have been shown to be a safe and effective therapeutic tool as a painkiller as they can be taken for long periods without showing unwanted side effects. Amphidinolids show in vitro a strong cytotoxicity to L1210 murine lymphoma and human epidermal carcinoma cells. The components of these algae also have antibacterial antimicrobial, antioxidant, protect against UV radiation, and for the richness of functional foods, including docosahexaenoic acid can also be used for children’s products.

Published on: July 15, 2020
doi: 10.17756/jfcn.2020-095
Citation: Ferrara L. 2020. Dinoflagellates Important Marine Producers of Natural Bio-Compounds with High Biotechnological and Pharmacological Potential. J Food Chem Nanotechnol 6(3): 138-149.