Geraldine M. Ortiz-Sosa ², Nicole A. Colón-Rosa³ , Mikaela Rodríguez-González ¹, Gabriela M. Ramírez-Renta ¹,

Aniel J. Rivera-Arzola ³, Ingrid N. De León-Ruíz ¹, Karen Díaz-García ¹ , Grayce E.Dyer Levin ⁴,

Eduardo Caro-Díaz ⁴, Ricardo Chiesa ¹

1 Department of Biology, 2 Natural Sciences General Program, 3 Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto

Rico, Cayey, 4 University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus

Surveys show that one third of the population is affected by an anxiety disorder. These are mostly treated with benzodiazepines (BZD’s) which can induce dependence-disorders through tolerance and resistance mechanisms. This highlights the need for safer and more effective anxiolytic drugs.

Recently, marine natural products have proven to be a rich chemical space for drug discovery and development. Specifically, tropical marine algae produce a wide range of metabolites with diverse biological activity, including neuroprotection. We propose to study the anxiolytic effects of natural products derived from marine tropical brown algae using an invertebrate fly model (drosophila).

Our research aims to chemically characterize brown algae extracts, use these extracts for anxietyrelated behavioral tests using Drosophila and identify the chemical components responsible for the anxiolytic activity.We have recently published results reporting that a crude extract of Stypopodium zonale decreases fear related behavior in Drosophila melanogaster using both an Open Field Test (OFT) and the Dark/Light Box test (DLB). This study will further develop and validate Drosophila as a versatile and useful alternative for drug discovery efforts geared towardstreatment of anxiety disorders. Our research represents an unprecedented approach to anxiolytic drug discovery. It will also contribute to our understanding of Puerto Rico’s marine algae and their natural product’s chemo-diversity. Our marine brown algae chemical library will also serve as a unique resource that harnesses Puerto Rico’s marine biodiversity and as a platform for other biotechnological discoveries.

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