Salicylic acid and its derivatives elicit the production of diterpenes and sterols in corals and their algal symbionts: a metabolomics approach to elicitor SAR

Author's Department

Chemistry Department

Find in your Library


All Authors

Mohamed A. Farag; Amal A. Maamoun; Achim Meyer; Ludger A. Wessjohann

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title


Publication Date





The production of marine drugs in its normal habitats is often low and depends greatly on ecological conditions. Chemical synthesis of marine drugs is not economically feasible owing to their complex structures. Biotechnology application via elicitation represents a promising tool to enhance metabolites yield that has yet to be explored in soft corals. Objectives: Study the elicitation impact of salicylic acid (SA) and six analogues in addition to a systemic acquired resistance inducer on secondary metabolites accumulation in the soft coral Sarcophyton ehrenbergi along with the symbiont zooxanthellae and if SA elicitation effect is extended to other coral species S. glaucum and Lobophyton pauciliforum. Methods: Post elicitation in the three corals and zooxanthella, metabolites were extracted and analyzed via UHPLC-MS coupled with chemometric tools. Results: Multivariate data analysis of the UHPLC-MS data set revealed clear segregation of SA, amino-SA, and acetyl-SA elicited samples. An increased level ca. 6- and 8-fold of the diterpenes viz., sarcophytonolide I, sarcophine and a C 28 -sterol, was observed in SA and amino-SA groups, respectively. Post elicitation, the level of diepoxy-cembratriene increased 1.5-fold and 2.4-fold in 1 mM SA, and acetyl-SA (aspirin) treatment groups, respectively. S. glaucum and Lobophyton pauciliforum showed a 2-fold increase of diepoxy-cembratriene levels. Conclusion: These results suggest that SA could function as a general and somewhat selective diterpene inducing signaling molecule in soft corals. Structural consideration reveals initial structure–activity relationship (SAR) in SA derivatives that seem important for efficient diterpene and sterol elicitation.

This document is currently not available here.