Exploring the chemical diversity and distribution of marine cyanobacteria and algae through mass spectrometry

Like plants, algae and cyanobacteria produce a dizzying array of largely unexplored natural products that can be used as medicines, in biotechnology and in agriculture. Luzzatto-Knaan et al. used mass spectrometry (MS) to explore chemical diversity from marine samples collected across space and time. They found some compounds that are widely dispersed and others found only in specific regions, and they displayed their findings on an interactive world map, revealing regions of high chemical diversity. From a collection obtained from one of these regions, they identified a novel natural product, yuvalamide A. This work demonstrates the value of using non-targeted MS approaches to characterize metabolites, as well as  highlighting the uncharted information stored in existing collections. eLIFE 10.7554/eLife.24214