Marine bioprospecting, also known as marine natural products research, is concerned with the exploration and exploitation of the rich biological and chemical diversity found in marine organisms which inhabit the oceans.

Marine bioprospecting is a relatively new endeavour, having its origins in the late 1940’s, 8 when Werner Bergman ‘discovered’ arabinoside sugar in marine sponges, a substance which does not occur on land. This discovery led directly to the development of several anti-viral (ara-A) and anti-cancer (ara-C) compounds. Marine bioprospecting gained momentum in earnest during the 1970’s and 1980’s due to improved deep sea collection methods and analyses. Until then, marine bioprospecting was limited to places of high biodiversity and easy accessibility,such as the tropical seas and coral reefs.

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