Exploring the chemical space of macro-and micro-algae using comparative metabolomics

Alison H. Hughes, Florent Magot, Ahmed F. Tawfike, Cecilia Rad-Menéndez, Naomi Thomas, Louise C. Young, Laura Stucchi, Daniele Carettoni, Michele S. Stanley, Ruangelie Edrada-Ebel, Katherine R. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
83 Downloads (Pure)


With more than 156,000 described species, eukaryotic algae (both macro-and micro-algae) are a rich source of biological diversity, however their chemical diversity remains largely unexplored. Specialised metabolites with promising biological activities have been widely reported for seaweeds, and more recently extracts from microalgae have exhibited activity in anticancer, antimicrobial, and antioxidant screens. However, we are still missing critical information on the distinction of chemical profiles between macro-and microalgae, as well as the chemical space these metabolites cover. This study has used an untargeted comparative metabolomics approach to explore the chemical diversity of seven seaweeds and 36 microalgal strains. A total of 1390 liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) features were detected, representing small organic algal metabolites, with no overlap between the seaweeds and microalgae. An in-depth analysis of four Dunaliella tertiolecta strains shows that environmental factors may play a larger role than phylogeny when classifying their metabolomic profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number311
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2021


  • Bioactivity
  • Biotechnology
  • Comparative metabolomics
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Microalgae
  • Microalgal metabolites


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