Student Research Projects

Lead Pharmacuticals in Marine Sponges

Student Hunter Melius '15 (Biology)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course Chemistry 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


In today’s world of prescriptions and illness the need for new pharmaceuticals is growing at an expedite rate because of how quickly microorganisms are becoming resistant and evolving. In this study we were trying to determine if marine sponges contained any naturally produced compounds that could be potentially used as a lead compound for a pharmaceutical. We focused the study on six different sponges; the Cliona celata, Terpios zeteki, Cinachyra alloclada, Microcicna prolifera, Axinella polycapella, and Axinella sp. The marine sponges were purchased from Gulf Specimens who collected them from the Gulf of Mexico of the coast of Florida. Organic compounds were extracted using dichloromethane and water to isolate the nonpolar and polar compounds. Gravimetric analysis, thin layer chromatography, and bioassays were used to analyze the extracts. The extracts were tested in bioassay against Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cervisiae. The extracts showed antibacterial activity and antifungal activity in the bioassay analysis. In the Escherichia coli bioassay, the most prominent inhibition was observed for the polar extracts from the Acinella polycapellaI and the Cliona celata species . For the Saccharomyces cervisiae bioassay, the nonpolar extracts from Axinella sp and Microcicna prolifera showed the largest zones of inhibition.