An Alkaloid from a Highly Invasive Seaweed Increases the Voracity and Reproductive Output of a Model Fish Species

Mar Drugs. 2022 Aug 12;20(8):513. doi: 10.3390/md20080513.


The invasive macroalga Caulerpa cylindracea has spread widely in the Mediterranean Sea, becoming a favorite food item for native fish for reasons yet unknown. By using a combination of behavioral, morphological, and molecular approaches, herein we provide evidence that the bisindole alkaloid caulerpin, a major secondary metabolite of C. cylindracea, significantly increases food intake in the model fish Danio rerio, influencing the regulation of genes involved in the orexigenic pathway. In addition, we found that the compound improves fish reproductive performance by affecting the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. The obtained results pave the way for the possible valorization of C. cylindracea as a sustainable source of a functional feed additive of interest to face critical challenges both in aquaculture and in human nutrition.

Keywords: Caulerpa; caulerpin; food intake; marine biological invasions; reproduction; zebrafish.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids*
  • Animals
  • Caulerpa*
  • Humans
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Sea Bream*
  • Seaweed*


  • Alkaloids

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.