Genetics of Marine Toxin Biosynthesis

A number of sophisticated but poorly understood mechanisms are involved in the production of microbial neurotoxins. These alkaloids are responsible for amnesic or paralytic shellfish poisoning, for example, and are synthesised via a complicated multi-enzyme pathway.

The isolation and characterisation of the genes involved in synthesis of these compounds from microbes is the first step in understanding the environmental signals that trigger toxin production and how we can use these enzymes to produce novel neuroactive drugs. Subjects of this study include the blue-ring octopus, marine sponges and marine algae.

         Blue-ringed octopus (Dr K Hoehn)

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