With more than 156,000 described species, eukaryotic algae (both macro- and micro-algae) are a rich source of biological diversity, however their chemical diversity remains largely unexplored. Specialised metabolites with promising biological activities have been widely reported for seaweeds, and more recently extracts from microalgae have exhibited activity in anticancer, antimicrobial, and antioxidant screens. However, we are still missing critical information on the distinction of chemical profiles between macro- and microalgae, as well as the chemical space these metabolites cover. This study has used an untargeted comparative metabolomics approach to explore the chemical diversity of seven seaweeds and 36 microalgal strains. A total of 1390 liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) features were detected, representing small organic algal metabolites, with no overlap between the seaweeds and microalgae. An in-depth analysis of four Dunaliella tertiolecta strains shows that environmental factors may play a larger role than phylogeny when classifying their metabolomic profiles.
Keywords: bioactivity; biotechnology; comparative metabolomics; mass spectrometry; microalgae; microalgal metabolites.