As a kind of marine organic matter with important geochemical characteristics, amino sugars can effectively reflect the source, diagenetic state and mineralization process of organic matter by their concentration and composition in marine environment. This article systematically concluded the research progresses of amino sugars from the aspects of their source, composition and distribution characteristics in marine environment, and the role as a biomarker indicating source and diagenetic state of marine organic matter. The result showed that the macromolecular morphology, the oxygen and nutrient level and the sedimentary environment could affect the reactivity of amino sugars. The higher ratios of glucosamine to galactosamine (GlcN/GalN) and the Total Hydrolysable Amino Acids to Total Hydrolysable Amino Sugars (THAA/THAS) can reflect the fresh planktonic organic matter source and the lower ratios can reflect the conversion from planktonic to bacterial organic matter. The carbon and nitrogen normalized yield of total hydrolysable amino sugars, however, could give contradictory results depending on the relative contribution of the source and degradation degree of organic matter. Muramic acid is suitable to estimate the contribution of relatively fresh bacteria organic matter to particulate and sediment organic matter, but it is not suitable for applying in the dissolved organic matter because of its very low concentration leading from its rapid recycle. It is critical to enhance the research on the contribution of different microorganisms to amino sugars and differentiate the influence of organic matter source and degradation on amino sugars in marine environment. The research on the conversion and fate of amino sugars in marine environment is also needed.