Introduction

Many marine and aquatic organisms such as algae, dino-flagellates, nematodes, sponges, tunicates, barnacles, bryozoans, nudibranches, and fishes have soft bodies which are an easy target for predators, bacteria, and fungi. In addition, since marine organisms have to face high competition for limited resources and living space, efficient defense strategies are crucial for them. Therefore marine organisms are forced to use powerful chemical defense strategies. Some of the most toxic natural products such as brevetoxin (LD100 zebrafish 3ngml_1) or palytoxin (LD50 mouse <100ngkg_1) have been isolated from marine organisms.

Due to the large variety of marine and aquatic organisms as well as the enormous diversity of natural products that often serve the producers for their chemical defense, this article, given the scope afforded here, can just provide a flavor for the defense of marine and aquatic organisms with some selected examples that should illustrate general principles of their defense mechanisms. Furthermore the author would like to draw the attention to both, parallels to the defense of terrestrial organisms and the specialities of aquatic chemical defense.

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