Secondary Metabolites and Cellular Signaling

Our interest are organismic, chemosensory and cellular functions/effects of marine secondary metabolites originating from animals as well as from algae or other marine organisms.Many secondary metabolites are often produced for defense purposes e.g. pyrrole alkaloids from sponges, which serve its ecological role in some cases by modulating cellular signal pathways as the intracellular calcium level. In aquaeous environment many chemicals are soluble and can transmit information over long distances. It may be deterrent or alluring or may induce important changes in biochemistry and morphology of organisms.Information from the environment is in part translated in signals in single cells and whole organisms. Animals use specialized chemosensory organs to detect the chemical information in the environment, therefore many secondary metabolites may act as odor molecules in marine systems.

Some marine compounds and its analogies (see show a strong fluorescence during blue/UV light excitation and can be used as tools for physiological investigations of the cellular/organismic pH.

Contact: PD Dr. Ulf Bickmeyer




Tools and methods

Cellular effects of secondary metabolites are investigated by using electrophysiological methods (e.g. patch clamp) as well as fluorimetric approaches (multiphoton microscopy) to elucidate interactions of metabolites with membrane ion channels and to measure intracellular signals in cells as well as intact transparent organisms.

Properties and ecological role of marine fluorescent compounds are investigated.