Our overall goals are to : (1) coordinate investigations of South Pacific organisms as pharmaceutical resources for treating diseases of importance in the Pacific Islands and United States and for novel bioenergy applications (2) support sustainable uses of the biodiversity upon which such bioprospecting depends, and (3) understand the processes degrading coral reef ecosystems and initiate locally-appropriate conservation measures to enhance reef resiliance to both local and global pressures, (4) leverage NIH, University of the South Pacific (USP), and other resources to develop the South Pacific Center for Biodiversity Conservation and Drug Discovery (SPCBCDD) into a self-sustaining institution serving the 12 countries that operate USP (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu), and (5) develop "green" culturing of coral reef live rock as an environmentally appropriate and economically viable substiture for the present destructive practices of live rock mining from Fijian reefs. Drug discovery will focus on (1) phylogenetically distinct and chemically rich marine actinomycetes making metabolites that are active in biomedical screens and that hosts novel metabolic pathways valuable for sustainable energy development, and (2) on chemically-rich coral reef macroorganisms that commonly upregulate defensive chemistry in response to attack from natural enemies, simulated attack, or other stresses. Extracts from these organisms will be bioassayed against relevant models including: drug resistant bacteria, fungi, TB, Malaria, psychological disorders, and cancer. Additionally, we will evaluate patterns in tropical reef biodiversity and conduct field experiments to determine the relative impacts of common stresses (e.g., overfishing, nutrification) causing seaweed replacement of corals and precipitating the dramatic loss of biodiversity that is occurring on coral reefs worldwide. Toward this end we will identify the processes and mechanisms involved, elucidate those critical herbivores that control the most aggressive seaweeds, and work with village leaders to develop effective resource management strategies based on this scientific input. We will also continue developing a web based foundation we have created for funding conservation of Fijian coral reef and mangrove systems.

Public Health Relevance

This project focuses on marine microbes and Fijian coral reef organisms as producers of biologically active secondary metabolites that can be developed as pharmaceuticals to address diseases of peoples of both the U.S. and developing countries, especially in the South Pacific. Additional goals are the conservation of biotic resources on coral reefs and economic development of coastal Fijian villages based on sustainable practices.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-ICP2-B (53))
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Katz, Flora N
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Georgia Institute of Technology
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Bonaldo, Roberta M; Hay, Mark E (2014) Seaweed-coral interactions: variance in seaweed allelopathy, coral susceptibility, and potential effects on coral resilience. PLoS One 9:e85786
Dixson, Danielle L; Abrego, David; Hay, Mark E (2014) Reef ecology. Chemically mediated behavior of recruiting corals and fishes: a tipping point that may limit reef recovery. Science 345:892-7
Ziemert, Nadine; Lechner, Anna; Wietz, Matthias et al. (2014) Diversity and evolution of secondary metabolism in the marine actinomycete genus Salinispora. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:E1130-9
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Rasher, Douglas B; Hay, Mark E (2014) Competition induces allelopathy but suppresses growth and anti-herbivore defence in a chemically rich seaweed. Proc Biol Sci 281:20132615
Ahmed, Lina; Jensen, Paul R; Freel, Kelle C et al. (2013) Salinispora pacifica sp. nov., an actinomycete from marine sediments. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 103:1069-78
Subramani, Ramesh; Aalbersberg, William (2013) Culturable rare Actinomycetes: diversity, isolation and marine natural product discovery. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 97:9291-321
Zafrir Ilan, Ella; Torres, Manuel R; Prudhomme, Jacques et al. (2013) Farnesides A and B, sesquiterpenoid nucleoside ethers from a marine-derived Streptomyces sp., strain CNT-372 from Fiji. J Nat Prod 76:1815-8
Rasher, Douglas B; Hoey, Andrew S; Hay, Mark E (2013) Consumer diversity interacts with prey defenses to drive ecosystem function. Ecology 94:1347-58
Teasdale, Margaret E; Prudhomme, Jacques; Torres, Manuel et al. (2013) Pharmacokinetics, metabolism, and in vivo efficacy of the antimalarial natural product bromophycolide A. ACS Med Chem Lett 4:989-993

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