Natural product chemistry is a branch in the field of chemistry that deals with the isolation, identification, structure elucidation and the study of chemical properties as well as characteristics of the various chemical substances that is produced by living organisms. Natural products are compounds or substances that can be isolated from most living organisms, both marine and terrestrial and is produced due to variability in environmental conditions. Marine natural products, specifically is affected by extreme conditions which encompass a wide range of temperature; below freezing temperatures in Antarctic waters to about 350°C in deep hydrothermal vents, pressure range of 1 to 1000 atmosphere, nutrient range from oligotrophic to eutrophic and it has extensive photic and non-photic zones. Some of such metabolites extracted have even made its way into the cosmetic marketplace, for instance, ambergris is used as a perfume fixative. These metabolites are also known as secondary metabolites. Secondary metabolites are compounds that are synthesised by organisms due to the various environmental conditions to the organisms. Due to its existence in extreme condition, the synthesis of secondary metabolites requires additional energy, so its usage by a marine organism is minimized. These metabolites are used for various purposes such as defence and communication, but most remain unclear. These metabolites have the capability to act as potential novel drugs used in pharmacology. For example, Aplysia from sea hare is used as depilatory and essences from gastropod opercula is used in perfumes and incense. An attempt to isolate a bioactive compound was made onto an unknown Gorgonian species during my undergraduate dissertation. Gorgonians are also a source of marine natural products as researches have illustrated that the gorgonians contained high levels of secondary metabolites. Gorgonians are recorded to acetogenins, sesquiterpenoids, diterpenoids, and even some highly functionalized steroids. Being a branch of soft coral, Gorgonians contain a rigid skeleton and are classified under the phylum Cindarian. Methanol extract from a purple coloured Gorgonian species proved to contain bioactive properties as it inhibited growth of several laboratory cultured environmental bacteria. Therefore, an unknown compound 1 was isolated and through spectral data, the compound was assigned as C8H18O6. This compound is active against Clostridium sordelli and Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
In addition to this, one consensus that was made through various discussion was, the particular Gorgonian species was suspected to accumulate contaminant from its surrounding and concentrates it into its body. These contaminants displayed bioactive properties and is possibly a means of protection to this marine Gorgonian species. Further studies on this properties will be conducted in the future.