Since the 19th century, Europe has been actively involved in marine biology research and its coastal marine biology stations are the oldest in the world. Marine biology is an increasingly important field as humanity looks to the seas for new resources and a better understanding of the planet. The EU-funded ASSEMBLE (Association of European marine biological laboratories) initiative is a joint venture of mainly European marine research stations. The project aimed to develop an integrated infrastructure to support marine biology research. For this purpose, the consortium upgraded existing infrastructure, coordinated research topics and enhanced transnational access to these sites. ASSEMBLE also added research stations in Chile and Israel. Activities geared towards the improvement of existing technologies focused on new model organisms to study marine genetics. New multicellular organisms, unicellular eukaryotic organisms and cell lines were identified for their broad usefulness to biological researchers. From a networking perspective, the ASSEMBLE consortium organised five workshops for staff training on culture techniques, conservation of microbial resources, functional genomics and scientific diving. Partners also established a virtual toolbox for protocols and good practice guidelines for on-site and remote access research. Combined with a shared database for marine organisms, these measures aim to increase the coordination between marine stations both within and outside the ASSEMBLE network. Over the course of the project's research period, 58 person years of access were granted to international researchers outside of the ASSEMBLE consortium. This was achieved through a unified access system and by establishing consortium-wide procedures for requesting access. The state-of-the-art experimental facilities and coordinated technology platforms of the ASSEMBLE network will improve the quality of marine biology research in Europe.
Observation stations, marine biology, marine biological laboratories