Skip to main content

European Marine Biological Research Infrastructure Cluster to promote the Blue Bioeconomy

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - EMBRIC (European Marine Biological Research Infrastructure Cluster to promote the Blue Bioeconomy)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-05-31

Marine biotechnology is gaining a growing importance in the global biotechnology sector for at least two reasons. First, it can offer promising, innovative solutions to most challenges that mankind must face today and in the near future. Second, growing demands for bioproducts cannot be satisfied from terrestrial sources alone. However, the high economic potential of marine biotechnologies remains underexploited because of:
• Operational issues hindering the full exploration and exploitation of marine biological resources.
• Practical and cultural difficulties in connecting science with industry.
• High fragmentation of regional innovation ecosystems in marine biotechnology throughout Europe.
The European Marine Biological Research Infrastructure Cluster (EMBRIC) brings together several European Research Infrastructures (RIs) in a collaborative initiative, which aims to facilitate transnational marine science and remove existing bottlenecks which are currently impeding blue innovation
Partners within EMBRIC obtained the following results:
• The “BacDive” database has been updated to prove organism-linked information of bacterial biodiversity;
• 8 sets of best practice were reviewed along with the general standards such as Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and several International Standards Organization norms;
• Advances were made on the standardization of procedures for shipping of micro and macro-organisms, which will facilitate access of users to biological resources;
• The migration of the OVT from the EMBRIC website to the EMBRC website is envisioned;
• User projects generated scientific results and feedback for improvement of discovery workflows;
• The Configurator developed supported 16 configurations in total (13 cases, 3 recommendations).
• USTAN produced cosmid libraries, detected 9 gene clusters and a series of compounds;
• HZI improved the efficiency of different extraction and characterization techniques for use on different types of organisms resulting in discovery of isolates producing interesting compounds. One extract with potential new metabolites is being further studied.
• The designed media enabled the isolation of 264 species of rarely isolated bacteria;
• Over 65 batches of algal pellets were obtained and shipped to UNS for chemical fractionation, where 380 different extracts were produced and then shipped for bio-assays at the SZN and for metabolomic screening at HZI;
• More than 530 metabolic profiles were obtained, representing input data in molecular network analyses;
• WP7 processed more than double of the 30 microalgal samples originally planned for the project, selecting species with very different properties.
• WP8 partners created a checklist for contextual information associated with molecular data for shellfish, implemented in the European Nucleotide;
• Partner 6 characterized the King scallop microbiome and developed disease challenge protocols for the blue mussel;
• Partner 13 evaluated 831 European sea bass for individual feed efficiency;
• Genomic data sets were created and deposited in public databases;
• TNA program attracted 29 proposals, 24 were selected during the two calls, giving access to 2 different RIs to users.
• A total of 5 training calls have been launched. 8 trainings have been organized with a reach of more than 200 participants. 2 online courses were designed, aimed at capacity building and at specific skills training.

Work will still be performed after the project end:

• Territorial Embedding Assessment reports will be compiled in a book;
• Other online tutorials will be published on the EMBRC fostered Marine Training Platform during the summer of 2019;
• For long-term sustainability of the secondary metabolites pipeline, collaborations continue, and EU-OS continuedly offers its compound collection for marine NPs;
• The online “SeaProbes” portal will be continued to ensure long-term dissemination of these antibodies to the scientific community.
• The network built within WP7 will continue working beyond the time of the project and will represent a model for sharing resources and connecting European laboratories for drug discovery. 
Given the current state-of-the-art, the advances at the end of EMBRIC will be:
• Functional trans-disciplinary and strong collaboration between related RIs: EMBRC, the main RI for the provision of marine bioresources, AQUAEXCEL specialised on finfish, and the more generic RIs in biological, chemical and social sciences MIRRI, EU-OS, ELIXIR and RISIS.
• WP2 provided important new developments that will facilitate user access to information on biological resources which will facilitate efficient exploitation of biodiversity for biotechnology.
• WP3 collaborated with EMBRIC case studies (WP6, WP7) and TNA user projects hosted generated scientific results and feedback for improvement of discovery workflows.
• WP4 has helped to connect the marine biotechnology community to biomolecular data resources, providing a foundation for innovation and impact in the domain.
• WP5 developed a territorial embedding assessment approach, who has triggered a strong interest both from research institutes and from regional authorities that have included marine biotechnologies in their smart specialization strategy. The study of TT practices has also been subjected to a high international exposure (article submitted to peer review journal).
• WP6 has resulted in a flexible system to access cross research Infrastructure expertise and facilities to meet specific user defined demand of the research community.
• WP7 processed more than double of the 30 microalgal samples originally planned for the project, selecting species with very different properties. Specific software for network analysis is being used to reveal differences and similarities in the compound content of different samples, in order to pinpoint conditions in which novel compounds appear.
• WP8 developed a non-invasive protocol based on water sampling, promising to be an important new tool for the development of hatchery-based selective breeding programs. The results revealed a distinct genetic break between the Shetland Islands and southern Norway across a distance of just 300 km. Moreover, the use of genomic information was shown to increase the predictive ability of the genetic models used to estimate breeding values.
• WP9 developed knowledge management activities and tools for staff and users by. The foundation and baseline analysis were achieved and supporting framework was expanded to assist in the organization of training initiatives from participating RIs. The knowledge gained within the EMBRIC project has helped WP9 coordination office in better positioning their offer and skills in this field for future trainings.
• WP10 was dedicated to the set-up of a TNA program, allowing the external scientific user community to access EMBRIC research workflows. EMBRIC TNA has demonstrated that collaboration among different RIs can help Users in their development of basic ideas towards marketable products. We have gained confidence that we –as consortia of collaborating RIs– can address the research and technological development needs not only of academia but also of the private sector.
MBA Training session
CABI Bioservices
MBA Culture collection facilities