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Student Research Projects

Extraction and isolation of antimicrobial compounds from Microcina ProliferaExtraction and isolation of antimicrobial compounds from Microcina Prolifera Extraction and isolation of antimicrobial compounds from Microcina Prolifera

Student Lilly Moon '16 (Chemistry)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course Chemistry 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


There are increased needs to find new anti-viral and anti-bacterial therapeutics to counteract a growing number of pathogens that have developed multidrug resistance. The traditional methods of using synthetic libraries and drug design are limited to producing new lead compounds, which leaves natural product drug design as a favorable option. The marine organisms prove to be an excellent source because about half of the total biodiversity is comprised of marine organisms that offer abundant sources to discover new and useful therapeutics. Therefore studying these organisms’ chemical properties have high potential to yield useful antimicrobial compounds. Previous VWC students examined and identified antibacterial activity in extracts from marine sponges, including Cliona Celata. Over six months, four marine sponges were collected from Chesapeake Bay and extracted with various solvents that were then tested for antimicrobial activity. Six different solvents were used in the extraction of organic compounds from the sponges; however, only antimicrobial activity was observed in the chloroform extracts from the red beard sponge Microcina prolifera. The red beard sponge chloroform extract was further purified into neutral, acid and basic components, each of which was tested in the bioassay and fungal with different bacterial strains. Based on the extracts that inhibited the growth of E. coli and Sacchromyces cereves, there is likely at least one acidic and one basic compound with antimicrobial activity. Therefore, it would be useful to try to identify the structure of the compounds exhibiting antimicrobial activity using mass spectra and NMR.