Marine microalgae are photosynthetic microorganisms at the base of the marine food webs. They are characterized by huge taxonomic and metabolic diversity and several species have been shown to have bioactivities useful for the treatment of human pathologies. However, the compounds and the metabolic pathways responsible for bioactive compound synthesis are often still unknown. In this study, we aimed at analysing the microalgal transcriptomes available in the Marine Microbial Eukaryotic Transcriptome Sequencing Project (MMETSP) database for an in silico search of polyketide synthase type III homologs and, in particular, chalcone synthase (CHS) and stilbene synthase (STS), which are often referred to as the CHS/STS family. These enzymes were selected because they are known to produce compounds with biological properties useful for human health, such as cancer chemopreventive, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-angiogenic, anti-viral and anti-diabetic. In addition, we also searched for 4-Coumarate: CoA ligase, an upstream enzyme in the synthesis of chalcones and stilbenes. This study reports for the first time the occurrence of these enzymes in specific microalgal taxa, confirming the importance for microalgae of these pathways and giving new insights into microalgal physiology and possible biotechnological applications for the production of bioactive compounds.
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