Marine organism-derived secondary metabolites are promising potential sources for discovering environmentally safe antifouling agents. In present study, 55 marine secondary metabolites and their synthesized derivatives were tested and evaluated for their antifouling activities and security. These compounds include 44 natural products isolated from marine invertebrates and their symbiotic microorganisms collected from the South China Sea and 11 structural modified products derived from the isolated compounds. The natural secondary metabolites, covering phenyl ether derivatives, terpenoids, 9, 11-secosteroids, anthraquinones, alkaloids, nucleoside derivatives and peptides, were isolated from two corals, one sponge and five symbiotic fungi. All of the isolated and synthesized compounds were tested for their antifouling activities against the cyprids of barnacle Balanus (Amphibalanus) amphitrite Darwin. Noticeably, five phenyl ether derivatives (9, 11, 13–15) exhibited potent anti-larval settlement activity with the EC50 values lower than 3.05 μM and the LC50/EC50 ratios higher than 15. The study of structure–activity relationship (SAR) revealed that the introduction of acetoxy groups and bromine atoms to phenyl ether derivatives could significantly improve their antifouling activities. This is the first report on the SAR of phenyl ether derivatives on antifouling activity against barnacle B. amphitrite. The polybrominated diphenyl ether derivative, 2, 4, 6, 2′, 4′, 6′-hexabromo-diorcinol (13), which displayed excellent antifouling activity, was considered as a promising candidate of environmentally friendly antifouling agents.
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