Sea Grass Defense

Sea grasses growing in large meadows are targets of herbivory despite their low nutritional value. Their high content of phenols is discussed as a means to reduce feeding pressure, similar to terrestrial plants. Sea grasses depend on photosynthesis and consequently it is important for them to maintain the leaf surfaces free from other organisms such as marine invertebrates, bacteria, epiphytic algae, or fungi. The eelgrass Zostera marina produces zosteric acid 13 (Figure 2), a sulfated coumaric acid which very efficiently prevents the attachment of foreign organisms on its surfaces. The sulfate moiety is crucial for its bioactivity as an antifouling agent similar to other sulfate-containing marine compounds, for example, steroids from marine sponges.

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