Biodiversity and Natural Product Diversity


  • F Pietra, Università di Trento Trento Italy

This, the most recent contribution to the Tetrahedron Organic Chemistry series, provides an integrated evaluation of the diversity of natural products in relation to biodiversity. The ongoing exploitation of biological resources, while maintaining an effective equilibrium on Earth, depends much on the conservation of biodiversity. To this end, parts one and two focus on biodiversity from all viewpoints, while explaining the link with natural products. The third section concentrates on the molecular-shape level, as a link to ecosystem and biodiversity, while the fourth section tackles actual functionalization, as a link to biodiversity at species level. Part five addresses the diversification of these resources from biotechnology and chemical technology, while the final part is concerned with maintaining natural product diversity on Earth.
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Book information

  • Published: May 2002
  • Imprint: PERGAMON
  • ISBN: 978-0-08-043706-4


The topic is of course, very timely and it is exciting to see how F. Pietra explores it. The examples chosen by the author provide a useful introduction into the topic.
Michael Heinrich, Journal of Ethnopharmacology - Volume 83, number 3, 2002

This book is different from many others on Natural Product Diversity as it departs from the usual format of looking at compound diversity via taxonomic groups: insects, plants, fungi etc. or by compound type alkaloids, terpenoids etc. Instead, the author provides an overview of the diversity of compounds in different ecosystems (oceans, terrestrial and freshwater biomes) as well at what the author calls " functional levels" (signalling, antifeedants, food additives as well as fragrances and cosmetics).
The author has had to synthesise information about where plants' microbes that contain the compounds of interest were collected. This type of formation that was not always provided in natural product papers and if chemists were screening extracts from collections they would not have had this information. The author should be congratulated on the task undertaken. It has shown that biomes beyond the rain forests justify further study.
The book will be of interest to those studying different aspects of natural product diversity, chemical diversity, as well as chemical ecologists. Is is not overpriced and many students or scientists involved in drug discovery projects should be able to afford to buy a copy.

Monique S.J. Simmonds, Journal of Ethnopharmacology - Volume 83, number 3, 2002

Table of Contents

Part I. The concept of biodiversity. Defining Biodiversity. Biodiversity at species level. Biodiversity at higher taxonomic levels. Biodiversity at genetic level. Biodiversity at ecosystem level. The Course of Biodiversity. Part II. The relationship between biodiversity and natural product diversity. Taxonomy, Phylogeny, and Natural Products.The Problem of Unculturable Species.Natural Product Diversity: at which rank? The molecular rank. The taxonomic and ecological rank.Part III. Natural product diversity at ecosystem level. Terrestrial and Freshwater Biomes. Tropical rain forest, grassland and savanna, scrub and deciduous forest. American tropical and subtropical land. African tropical and subtropical land. Eastern tropical and subtropical land. Temperate grassland, deciduous forest, and chaparral. The taiga and the tundra.The Oceans.Zonation of the seas and oceans. Indo-Pacific. Caribbean. Panamanian. Mediterranean. North Pacific. South Pacific North Atlantic. South Atlantic. Zealandic. Arctic. Antarctic. Internal seas.The Widespread Distribution of Natural Products. The widespread distribution of natural products on land. The widespread distribution of natural products in the oceans. Found both on land and in the sea.Terrestrial vs Marine Natural Product Diversity.Life under Extreme Conditions.Graphic Analysis of the Skeletal Diversity and Complexityof Natural Products.Part IV. Natural product diversity at functional level.Signaling, Defensive, and Environmentally Relevant Metabolites. Recruiting, alarming, and growth stimulating agents. Antifeedant and antimicrobial agents. Toxins and environmentally noxious metabolites. Messengers of biodiversity. Mediators of signals.Exploiting Natural Product Diversity. Food, food additives, and food processing from land and the oceans. Commercial natural drugs and folk medicines. Natural products, derivatives, and extracts in development as drugs. Fragrances and cosmetics. Technological compounds and laboratory tools. Drugs of abuse.Part V. Biotechnology and chemical synthesis of natural products.The Role of Biotechnology.Biotechnology and natural products. Biocatalysis.The Role of Chemical Synthesis.Part VI. Threatening and management of natural product diversity.Threatening Natural Product Diversity.Fossil molecules and past natural product diversity. Endangered natural products. Threats from farming and urbanization. Threats from the introduction of alien species. Threats from toxicity, ecotoxicity, and climate changes following industrialization. Threats from biotechnology. A tentative list of endangered natural products. Our biased view? Management of Natural Product Diversity.Preserving natural product diversity through the management of living species. Preserving natural product diversity through collections and gene banks.