Marine macroscopic colony-forming filamentous (MMCFF) cyanobacteria are considered as prolific producers of bioactive compounds. Thus, knowledge of the diversity of MMCFF cyanobacteria as related to bioactive compound production has become very important. However, basic taxonomic studies of MMCFF cyanobacteria are lacking. Many cyanobacterial taxa are still misidentified or undescribed. In this study, a total of 32 cyanobacterial colonies from nine coastal regions of Okinawa Prefecture were investigated for a diversity assessment. A polyphasic approach including morphological and molecular studies based on 16S rRNA gene sequences was performed to characterize Okinawan MMCFF cyanobacteria. Both morphological and molecular phylogenetic results showed that MMCFF cyanobacteria from Okinawan coasts are very diverse. We found morphotypes of Lyngbya-like, Phormidium-like, and Leptolyngbya-like groups among Okinawan cyanobacterial samples. Genetically, samples were distributed in various clades in the phylogenetic tree, including within Moorena, Okeania, Caldora, Neolyngbya, Dapis, as well as several unknown clades. In addition, cytotoxic activities of three samples from Kiyan coast were tested against HeLa cells. All three crude extracts of these samples showed strong cytotoxic activity with IC50 < 1 μg/ml.
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