Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Chemical prospecting for pharmaceuticals in natural organisms (bioprospecting) has been both championed as a tool for conservation and criticised for not being environmentally sustainable. However, there has been little attempt to address the ways that bioprospecting could contribute to conservation if undertaken in an ecologically sustainable manner. Bioprospecting can provide financial benefits, but these are unlikely to advance natural resource management unless contractual agreements granting access to biodiversity specify that a percent of the fees and royalties must be used to fund conservation projects. A more likely positive outcome for conservation is that bioprospecting provides funding opportunities for the rapid documentation of biological diversity. If representative specimens of each sampled taxa are lodged in accredited institutes, a useful resource will be available for other research projects. Bioprospectors can also emphasize the need for conservation by increasing the community's appreciation for marine biodiversity. Nevertheless, bioprospecting will only be compatible with conservation objectives if it can be shown to have no negative impacts on the environment. There is some evidence that marine organisms have been over-collected for natural products research, although it is currently difficult to assess the impacts of marine bioprospecting due to the fact that the sample quantity and abundance of the target organism are rarely published in the scientific literature. It is apparent that research on the natural history and ecology of target organisms needs to be assigned greater priority. Bioprospecting could be undertaken with minimal impact on abundant species with broad geographic distributions because modern technologies permit the preliminary identification of bioactive compounds from small samples (<100g). However, environmental impact assessment may be necessary for the recollection of organisms prior to complete chemical characterisation and pharmacological evaluation. Once a useful compound has been identified several options are available for large-scale production, including chemical synthesis and aquaculture. By adopting a precautionary approach, new marine bioresources could be developed in a sustainable manner. Consequently, bioprospecting does have potential to contribute biodiversity research and the conservation of natural resources.

Aalbersberg, B. 1997. Biodiversity prospecting in the seas around Verata Tikina. In Biodiversity Conservation Network, Annual Report 1997. Biodiversity Conservation Network, Washington, DC.
Anderson, I. 1995. Oceans plundered in the name of medicine. New Scientist. 148 (2005):5.
Andrews, P. R., Borris, R., Dagne, E. Gupta, M. P., Mitscher, L. A., Monge, A., De Souza, N. J. and Topliss, J. G. 1996a. Preservation and utilization of natural biodiversity in context of search for economically valuable medicinal biota. Recommendations. Pure and Applied Chemistry 68: 2325-2332.
Andrews, P. R., Borris, R., Dagne, E. Gupta, M. P., Mitscher, L. A., Monge, A. and De Souza, N. J. 1996b. General features of contracts for natural product collaborators. Technical Report. Pure and Applied Chemistry 68: 2333-2337
Asebey, E. J. and Kempenaar, J. D. 1995. Biodiversity prospecting: Fulfilling the mandate of the biodiversity convention. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 28: 703-754
The Australian Science, Technology and Engineering Council. 1998 Environmental Research Ethics: National Principles and Guidelines for the Ethical Conduct of Research in Protected and Environmentally Sensitive Areas. Pp 48-49. Commonwealth of Australia. Ausinfo. Canberra, ACT.
Barrett, C. B. and Lybbert, T. J. 2000. Is bioprospecting a viable strategy for conserving tropical ecosystems? Ecological Economics 34: 293-300.
Beattie, A. J. 1992. Discovering new biological resources - chance or reason? Bioscience 42: 290-292
Beattie, A. J. 1993. Conservation, evolutionary biology and the discovery of future biological resources. Pages. 305-312 in Conservation Biology in Australia and Oceania ed. by C. Moritz and J. Kikkawa, Surrey Beatty and Sons, Sydney.
Beattie, A. J. 1994. Invertebrates as economic resources. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 36: 7-11.
Beattie, A. J. 1995. Natural history at the cutting edge. Ecological Economics 13:93-97.
Benkendorff, K. 1999a Bioactive Molluscan Resources and Their Conservation: Biological and Chemical Studies on the Egg Masses of Marine Molluscs. PhD Thesis, University of Wollongong.
Benkendorff, K. 1999b The Shellharbour and Bass Point Marine Environment. Report for Shellharbour City Council, NSW, Australia. 46 pp.
Benkendorff, K. 1999c. Sustainable bioprospecting. Chemistry in Australia. 66 (9):14-16.
Benkendorff, K. 1999d. Molluscan Resources: The past present and future value of molluscs. Pp. 316-321 in The Other 99%. The Conservation and Biodiversity of Invertebrates. Ed. by W. Ponder and D. Lunney. Transactions of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Mosman, NSW.
Benkendorff, K., J. B. Bremner, and A. R. Davis. 2000a. A putative role for the precursors of Tyrian Purple in the egg masses of the Australian Muricid, Dicathais orbita. Journal of Chemical Ecology 26:1037-1050.
Benkendorff, K., A. R. Davis, and J. B. Bremner. 2000b. Rapid screening for antimicrobial agents in the egg masses of marine molluscs. Journal of Medical and Applied Malacology 10: 211-223.
Cartè, B. 1996. Biomedical potential of marine natural products. Bioscience 46(4): 271-285.
Cimino, G., Crispino, A., Spinella, A. and Sodano, G. 1988. Two ichthyotoxic diacylglycerols from the opisthobranch mollusc Umbraculum mediterraneum.Tetrahedron Letters 29:3613-3616
Chapman, M. G. 1999. Are there adequate data to assess how well theories of rarity apply to marine invertebrates? Biodiversity and Conservation 8: 1295-1318.
Commonwealth Government. 1994 Access to Australia's Biological Diversity- A Discussion Paper. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
Commonwealth-State Working Group on Access to Australia's Biological Resources. 1997 Managing Access to Australia's Biological Resources: Developing a Nationally Consistent Approach- A Discussion Paper. Commonwealth Government, ACT.
The Convention on Biological Diversity. 1992. Rio de Janero.
Cragg, G. M., Newman, D. J. and Snader, K. M. 1997a. Natural products in drug discovery. Journal of Natural Products 60:52-60.
Cragg, G. M., Baker, J. T., Borris, R. P., Cartè, B., Cordell, G. A., Soejarto, D. D., Gupta, M. P., Iwu, M. M., Madulid, D. A. and Tyler, V. E. 1997b. Interactions with source countries. Guidelines for members of the American Society of Pharmacognosy. Journal of Natural Products 60:654-655.
Ehrenfeld, D. 1988. Why put a value on biodiversity? Pp 212-216 in Biodiversity. E. O. Wilson (Ed.), National Academy Press, Washington D. C.
Eisner, T. 1990. Prospecting for nature's chemical riches. Issues in Science and Technology 6(2):31-34.
Eisner, T. and Meinwald. 1989 The Göteborg Resolution. International Society for Chemical Ecology. Reprinted in Chemoecology 1 (1990):38.
Farrier, D. and Tucker, L. 1998. Access to marine biological resources and the conservation of marine biodiversity. ‘ Legal Issues in Management of the Marine Environment’ workshop, Qingdao, China, April 27-28, 1998.
Farrier, D. and Tucker, L. 2001. Access to marine bioresources: Hitching the conservation cart to the bioprospecting horse. The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law. In press.
Garson, M. 1996. Is marine bioprospecting sustainable? SEARCH, 27(4): 114-116.
Garson, M. 1997. Marine resources: Cure-all or lose all? Nature Australia. 25(8):80.
Kato, Y. and Scheuer, P. J. 1975. The aplysiatoxins. Pure and Applied Chemistry 41:1-14.
Lawton, J. 1991. Are species useful? Oikos 62: 3-4.
Liles, G. 1996. Gambling on marine biotechnology. Bioscience 46(4):250-253.
The Manila Declaration. 1992. Seventh Asian Symposium on Medicinal Plants, Spices and Other Natural Products. Manila, Philippines, February 2-7, 1992. Reprinted in Pure and Applied Chemistry 68: 2329-2331.
Matsunaga, S., Fusetani, N. and Hashimoto, K. 1986. Kabiramide C, a novel antifungal macrolide from nudibranch eggmasses. Journal of the American Chemical Society 108: 847-849.
The Melaka Accord. 1994. Eighth Asian Symposium on Medicinal Plants, Spices and Other Natural Products. Melaka, Malaysia, 12-16 June, 1994. Reprinted in Pure and Applied Chemistry 68: 2331-2332.
Munro, M. H. G., Blunt, J. W., Dumdei, E. J., Hickford, S. J. H., Lill, R. E., Li, S., Battershill, C. N. and Duckworth, A. R. 1999. The discovery and development of marine compounds with pharmaceutical potential. Journal of Biotechnology 70: 15-25.
National Strategy of the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity, 1997. Commonwealth Government, Canberra Australia.
Norton, B. 1988. Commodity, amenity and morality- The limits of quantification in valuing biodiversity. Pp 200-205 in Biodiversity. Ed. E. O. Wilson, National Academy Press, Washington D. C.
Pettit, G. R., Kamano, Y., Herald, C. L., Tuinman, A. A., Boettner, F. E., Kizu, H., Schmidt, J. M., Baczynskyj, L., Tomer, K. B. and Bontems, R. 1987. The isolation and structure of a remarkable marine animal antineoplastic constituent: Dolastatin 10. Journal of the American Chemical Society 109: 6883-6885.
Pomponi, S. A. 1999. The bioprocess - technological potential of the sea. Journal of Biotechnology 70: 5-13.
Ponder, W. F. 1999. Using museum collection data to assist in biodiversity assessment. Pp 253-256 in The Other 99%. The Conservation and Biodiversity of Invertebrates. Ed. by W. Ponder and D. Lunney. Transactions of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Mosman, NSW.
Randall, A. 1991. The value of biodiversity. AMBIO 20: 64-67.
Rinehart, K. L. 1988. Screening to detect biological activity. Pp 13-22 in Biomedical Importance of Marine Organisms. Ed. by D. G. Fautin. California Academy of Sciences.
Roberts, L. 1992. Chemical prospecting: Hope for vanishing ecosystems? Science 256: 1142-1143.
Sittenfeld, A. and Villers, R. 1993. Exploring and preserving biodiversity in the tropics: the Costa Rican case. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 280: 283.
Smith, R. S. 1999. ‘Bugging’ the media: TV broadcasting and the invertebrate agenda. Pp 413-417 in The Other 99%. The Conservation and Biodiversity of Invertebrates. Ed. by W. Ponder and D. Lunney. Transactions of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Mosman, NSW.
Starvo, A. 2000. Drug search turns to sea. The Weekend Australian February 26-27, 2000: 20.
Tangley, L. 1996. Ground rules emerge for marine bioprospectors. Bioscience 46:245-249.
Voumard, J. (Commonwealth Public Inquiry Chair) 2000 Access to Biological Resources in Commonwealth Areas. Environment Australia, Canberra, ACT.
Wilson, B. 1993 Australian Marine Shells. Odyssey Publishing. Kallaroo, Western Australia.
Wilson, E. O. 1994 The Diversity of Life. Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Victoria.
Workshop in Kuala Lumpur 1996 Guidelines to facilitate access to biological resources and the equitable sharing of benefits in the south east Asian Region. UNESCO subregional office Jakarta, the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, Malaysia and the International Foundation for Science. April 6-9, 1996.
This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.

Contents

Figures & Tables

References

Aalbersberg, B. 1997. Biodiversity prospecting in the seas around Verata Tikina. In Biodiversity Conservation Network, Annual Report 1997. Biodiversity Conservation Network, Washington, DC.
Anderson, I. 1995. Oceans plundered in the name of medicine. New Scientist. 148 (2005):5.
Andrews, P. R., Borris, R., Dagne, E. Gupta, M. P., Mitscher, L. A., Monge, A., De Souza, N. J. and Topliss, J. G. 1996a. Preservation and utilization of natural biodiversity in context of search for economically valuable medicinal biota. Recommendations. Pure and Applied Chemistry 68: 2325-2332.
Andrews, P. R., Borris, R., Dagne, E. Gupta, M. P., Mitscher, L. A., Monge, A. and De Souza, N. J. 1996b. General features of contracts for natural product collaborators. Technical Report. Pure and Applied Chemistry 68: 2333-2337
Asebey, E. J. and Kempenaar, J. D. 1995. Biodiversity prospecting: Fulfilling the mandate of the biodiversity convention. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 28: 703-754
The Australian Science, Technology and Engineering Council. 1998 Environmental Research Ethics: National Principles and Guidelines for the Ethical Conduct of Research in Protected and Environmentally Sensitive Areas. Pp 48-49. Commonwealth of Australia. Ausinfo. Canberra, ACT.
Barrett, C. B. and Lybbert, T. J. 2000. Is bioprospecting a viable strategy for conserving tropical ecosystems? Ecological Economics 34: 293-300.
Beattie, A. J. 1992. Discovering new biological resources - chance or reason? Bioscience 42: 290-292
Beattie, A. J. 1993. Conservation, evolutionary biology and the discovery of future biological resources. Pages. 305-312 in Conservation Biology in Australia and Oceania ed. by C. Moritz and J. Kikkawa, Surrey Beatty and Sons, Sydney.
Beattie, A. J. 1994. Invertebrates as economic resources. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 36: 7-11.
Beattie, A. J. 1995. Natural history at the cutting edge. Ecological Economics 13:93-97.
Benkendorff, K. 1999a Bioactive Molluscan Resources and Their Conservation: Biological and Chemical Studies on the Egg Masses of Marine Molluscs. PhD Thesis, University of Wollongong.
Benkendorff, K. 1999b The Shellharbour and Bass Point Marine Environment. Report for Shellharbour City Council, NSW, Australia. 46 pp.
Benkendorff, K. 1999c. Sustainable bioprospecting. Chemistry in Australia. 66 (9):14-16.
Benkendorff, K. 1999d. Molluscan Resources: The past present and future value of molluscs. Pp. 316-321 in The Other 99%. The Conservation and Biodiversity of Invertebrates. Ed. by W. Ponder and D. Lunney. Transactions of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Mosman, NSW.
Benkendorff, K., J. B. Bremner, and A. R. Davis. 2000a. A putative role for the precursors of Tyrian Purple in the egg masses of the Australian Muricid, Dicathais orbita. Journal of Chemical Ecology 26:1037-1050.
Benkendorff, K., A. R. Davis, and J. B. Bremner. 2000b. Rapid screening for antimicrobial agents in the egg masses of marine molluscs. Journal of Medical and Applied Malacology 10: 211-223.
Cartè, B. 1996. Biomedical potential of marine natural products. Bioscience 46(4): 271-285.
Cimino, G., Crispino, A., Spinella, A. and Sodano, G. 1988. Two ichthyotoxic diacylglycerols from the opisthobranch mollusc Umbraculum mediterraneum.Tetrahedron Letters 29:3613-3616
Chapman, M. G. 1999. Are there adequate data to assess how well theories of rarity apply to marine invertebrates? Biodiversity and Conservation 8: 1295-1318.
Commonwealth Government. 1994 Access to Australia's Biological Diversity- A Discussion Paper. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
Commonwealth-State Working Group on Access to Australia's Biological Resources. 1997 Managing Access to Australia's Biological Resources: Developing a Nationally Consistent Approach- A Discussion Paper. Commonwealth Government, ACT.
The Convention on Biological Diversity. 1992. Rio de Janero.
Cragg, G. M., Newman, D. J. and Snader, K. M. 1997a. Natural products in drug discovery. Journal of Natural Products 60:52-60.
Cragg, G. M., Baker, J. T., Borris, R. P., Cartè, B., Cordell, G. A., Soejarto, D. D., Gupta, M. P., Iwu, M. M., Madulid, D. A. and Tyler, V. E. 1997b. Interactions with source countries. Guidelines for members of the American Society of Pharmacognosy. Journal of Natural Products 60:654-655.
Ehrenfeld, D. 1988. Why put a value on biodiversity? Pp 212-216 in Biodiversity. E. O. Wilson (Ed.), National Academy Press, Washington D. C.
Eisner, T. 1990. Prospecting for nature's chemical riches. Issues in Science and Technology 6(2):31-34.
Eisner, T. and Meinwald. 1989 The Göteborg Resolution. International Society for Chemical Ecology. Reprinted in Chemoecology 1 (1990):38.
Farrier, D. and Tucker, L. 1998. Access to marine biological resources and the conservation of marine biodiversity. ‘ Legal Issues in Management of the Marine Environment’ workshop, Qingdao, China, April 27-28, 1998.
Farrier, D. and Tucker, L. 2001. Access to marine bioresources: Hitching the conservation cart to the bioprospecting horse. The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law. In press.
Garson, M. 1996. Is marine bioprospecting sustainable? SEARCH, 27(4): 114-116.
Garson, M. 1997. Marine resources: Cure-all or lose all? Nature Australia. 25(8):80.
Kato, Y. and Scheuer, P. J. 1975. The aplysiatoxins. Pure and Applied Chemistry 41:1-14.
Lawton, J. 1991. Are species useful? Oikos 62: 3-4.
Liles, G. 1996. Gambling on marine biotechnology. Bioscience 46(4):250-253.
The Manila Declaration. 1992. Seventh Asian Symposium on Medicinal Plants, Spices and Other Natural Products. Manila, Philippines, February 2-7, 1992. Reprinted in Pure and Applied Chemistry 68: 2329-2331.
Matsunaga, S., Fusetani, N. and Hashimoto, K. 1986. Kabiramide C, a novel antifungal macrolide from nudibranch eggmasses. Journal of the American Chemical Society 108: 847-849.
The Melaka Accord. 1994. Eighth Asian Symposium on Medicinal Plants, Spices and Other Natural Products. Melaka, Malaysia, 12-16 June, 1994. Reprinted in Pure and Applied Chemistry 68: 2331-2332.
Munro, M. H. G., Blunt, J. W., Dumdei, E. J., Hickford, S. J. H., Lill, R. E., Li, S., Battershill, C. N. and Duckworth, A. R. 1999. The discovery and development of marine compounds with pharmaceutical potential. Journal of Biotechnology 70: 15-25.
National Strategy of the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity, 1997. Commonwealth Government, Canberra Australia.
Norton, B. 1988. Commodity, amenity and morality- The limits of quantification in valuing biodiversity. Pp 200-205 in Biodiversity. Ed. E. O. Wilson, National Academy Press, Washington D. C.
Pettit, G. R., Kamano, Y., Herald, C. L., Tuinman, A. A., Boettner, F. E., Kizu, H., Schmidt, J. M., Baczynskyj, L., Tomer, K. B. and Bontems, R. 1987. The isolation and structure of a remarkable marine animal antineoplastic constituent: Dolastatin 10. Journal of the American Chemical Society 109: 6883-6885.
Pomponi, S. A. 1999. The bioprocess - technological potential of the sea. Journal of Biotechnology 70: 5-13.
Ponder, W. F. 1999. Using museum collection data to assist in biodiversity assessment. Pp 253-256 in The Other 99%. The Conservation and Biodiversity of Invertebrates. Ed. by W. Ponder and D. Lunney. Transactions of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Mosman, NSW.
Randall, A. 1991. The value of biodiversity. AMBIO 20: 64-67.
Rinehart, K. L. 1988. Screening to detect biological activity. Pp 13-22 in Biomedical Importance of Marine Organisms. Ed. by D. G. Fautin. California Academy of Sciences.
Roberts, L. 1992. Chemical prospecting: Hope for vanishing ecosystems? Science 256: 1142-1143.
Sittenfeld, A. and Villers, R. 1993. Exploring and preserving biodiversity in the tropics: the Costa Rican case. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 280: 283.
Smith, R. S. 1999. ‘Bugging’ the media: TV broadcasting and the invertebrate agenda. Pp 413-417 in The Other 99%. The Conservation and Biodiversity of Invertebrates. Ed. by W. Ponder and D. Lunney. Transactions of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Mosman, NSW.
Starvo, A. 2000. Drug search turns to sea. The Weekend Australian February 26-27, 2000: 20.
Tangley, L. 1996. Ground rules emerge for marine bioprospectors. Bioscience 46:245-249.
Voumard, J. (Commonwealth Public Inquiry Chair) 2000 Access to Biological Resources in Commonwealth Areas. Environment Australia, Canberra, ACT.
Wilson, B. 1993 Australian Marine Shells. Odyssey Publishing. Kallaroo, Western Australia.
Wilson, E. O. 1994 The Diversity of Life. Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Victoria.
Workshop in Kuala Lumpur 1996 Guidelines to facilitate access to biological resources and the equitable sharing of benefits in the south east Asian Region. UNESCO subregional office Jakarta, the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, Malaysia and the International Foundation for Science. April 6-9, 1996.
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal