Microalgal secondary metabolites have attracted attention for two main reasons: first, because they are source of toxins in harmful algal blooms and second, because they are potential rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The dinoflagellates are hig hly diverse group of flagellated unicellular algae and the major toxin-producing group. Approximately 25 species of dinoflagellates are known to produce about 45 different polyketides, they have often been associated with poisoning in humans consuming tai nted fish or shellfish. The dinoflagellate polyketides synthetic pathways are poorly understood and the enzymes responsible for their production are completely unknown. So far no studies of the molecular basis of polyketide biosynthesis in dinoflagellates have been published. We are aware that such studies have been initiated, and it is likely that this field will boost in near future. There are many basic biological questions - with strong relevance to biotechnology -to be addressed. Are most dinoflagel late toxins and other algal toxins associated with polyketide synthetases? Why are these complex compounds produced? Is there a biological connection to fatty acid synthesis? Is there any evidence for horizontal transfer of polyketide syntetases in algae ? Can a cloned dinoflagellate PKS be efficiently expressed in a heterologous host? Can new polyketide compounds with biotechnological potential be identified? The link between polyketide synthesis and algae's ability to adapt to certain environmental cond itions, and can this be associated with harmful algal blooms? In what ways are the different bioactive polyketides affecting marine life such as fish stocks, shellfish and farmed fish? Do algal polyketides represent a problem for utilization of algae (or algal compounds) for fish feed? In the current proposal we plan to utilize some of the many genomic efforts on microalgae and protists and gene information from new EST libraries from algae known to produce toxins.
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