Student Research Projects

Isolation of antimicrobial compounds from the marine red algae Agarhiella tenera

Student Tanya Puccio '15 (Biology and Hispanic Studies)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course Chemistry 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


Natural compounds are often sources of chemotherapeutic agents and recently there has been interest in the properties of compounds extracted from marine organisms. These studies have revealed structurally diverse bioactive compounds. Some of these compounds have previously unknown mechanisms of action and have been introduced into clinical trials as new classes of chemotherapeutic agents. For this project, three marine algae species were either bought from a supplier or collected from the Eastern Shore of Virginia (Agarhiella tenera, Fucus vesiculosus, and Caulerpa cupressoides). Secondary metabolites were extracted from each of the ground specimens. These compounds were then tested for antimicrobial properties by conducting bioassays on a variety of bacterial and fungal species. The dichloromethane extract isolated from an acid-base extraction of Agarhiella tenera showed inhibition of several microbial species and these results were confirmed by dose response bioassays. Further research is needed to purify and determine the exact bioactive compound present in the algae.


Selected as top research project in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, 2014-15.