Heterobranch molluscs are rich in natural products. As other marine organisms, these gastropods are still quite unexplored, but they provide a stunning arsenal of compounds with interesting activities. Among their natural products, terpenoids are particularly abundant and diverse, including monoterpenoids, sesquiterpenoids, diterpenoids, sesterterpenoids, triterpenoids, tetraterpenoids, and steroids. This review evaluates the different kinds of terpenoids found in heterobranchs and reports on their bioactivity. It includes more than 330 metabolites isolated from ca. 70 species of heterobranchs. The monoterpenoids reported may be linear or monocyclic, while sesquiterpenoids may include linear, monocyclic, bicyclic, or tricyclic molecules. Diterpenoids in heterobranchs may include linear, monocyclic, bicyclic, tricyclic, or tetracyclic compounds. Sesterterpenoids, instead, are linear, bicyclic, or tetracyclic. Triterpenoids, tetraterpenoids, and steroids are not as abundant as the previously mentioned types. Within heterobranch molluscs, no terpenoids have been described in this period in tylodinoideans, cephalaspideans, or pteropods, and most terpenoids have been found in nudibranchs, anaspideans, and sacoglossans, with very few compounds in pleurobranchoideans and pulmonates. Monoterpenoids are present mostly in anaspidea, and less abundant in sacoglossa. Nudibranchs are especially rich in sesquiterpenes, which are also present in anaspidea, and in less numbers in sacoglossa and pulmonata. Diterpenoids are also very abundant in nudibranchs, present also in anaspidea, and scarce in pleurobranchoidea, sacoglossa, and pulmonata. Sesterterpenoids are only found in nudibranchia, while triterpenoids, carotenoids, and steroids are only reported for nudibranchia, pleurobranchoidea, and anaspidea. Many of these compounds are obtained from their diet, while others are biotransformed, or de novo
biosynthesized by the molluscs. Overall, a huge variety of structures is found, indicating that chemodiversity correlates to the amazing biodiversity of this fascinating group of molluscs.