Marine invertebrates are sources of a diverse array of bioactive metabolites with great potential for development as drugs and research tools. In many cases, microorganisms are known or suspected to be the biosynthetic source of marine invertebrate natural products. The application of molecular microbiology to the study of these relationships will contribute to basic biological knowledge and facilitate biotechnological development of these valuable resources. The bryostatin-producing bryozoan B. neritina and its specific symbiont "Candidatus Endobugula sertula" constitute one promising model system. Another fertile subject for investigation is the listhistid sponges that contain numerous bioactive metabolites, some of which originate from bacterial symbionts.