Diatoms are abundant and important biological components of the marine environment that biosynthesize diverse natural products. These microalgae are rich in various lipids, carotenoids, sterols and isoprenoids, some of them containing toxins and other metabolites. Several groups of diatom natural products have attracted great interest due to their potential practical application as energy sources (biofuel), valuable food constituents, and prospective materials for nanotechnology. In addition, hydrocarbons, which are used in climate reconstruction, polyamines which participate in biomineralization, new apoptotic agents against tumor cells, attractants and deterrents that regulate the biochemical communications between marine species in seawaters have also been isolated from diatoms. However, chemical studies on these microalgae are complicated by difficulties, connected with obtaining their biomass, and the influence of nutrients and contaminators in their environment as well as by seasonal and climatic factors on the biosynthesis of the corresponding natural products. Overall, the number of chemically studied diatoms is lower than that of other algae, but further studies, particularly those connected with improvements in the isolation and structure elucidation technique as well as the genomics of diatoms, promise both to increase the number of studied species with isolated biologically active natural products and to provide a clearer perception of their biosynthesis.
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