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TASCMAR Report Summary

Project ID: 634674
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TASCMAR (Tools And Strategies to access to original bioactive compounds from Cultivation of MARine invertebrates and associated symbionts)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2016-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

TASCMAR aspires to develop new tools and strategies to overcome bottlenecks in the sustainable discovery and industrial application of novel marine derived biomolecules. The project will investigate potential applications in pharmaceuticals, food supplements and cosmetics - with a key focus on the theme of anti-aging – as well as technologies for bioremediation and applications in the fine chemicals industry.
TASCMAR takes a whole new approach, using as its main bioresource the neglected and underutilized marine invertebrates and symbionts found in the ocean’s mesophotic zone. Innovative approaches for the cultivation and extraction of marine organisms from lab to pilot-scale will be implemented using the unique prototypes Platotex™ and Zippertex™. The project’s activities will be constantly assessed for their socio-economic and environmental impact in order to find the best balance between commercial and environmental goals.
TASCMAR is expected to generate social, economic and environmental impacts. Research activities in TASCMAR will contribute to producing and sharing knowledge, while the project’s findings could potentially have a long-term effect on public health and quality of life. TASCMAR will generate long term technological and financial impacts, through the improvement of technologies for bioprospecting, bioremediation, chemical extraction and cultivation of marine invertebrates and symbionts. The commercial developments planned will ultimately contribute to the economy through employment. New discoveries impacting on health issues will generate a saving in the public health expenditure. TASCMAR aims to set a benchmark for ethical bioprospecting in mesophotic depths. The project has established and will disseminate a set of internal policies concerning collection practices, which go beyond the current state of the art, drawing from the most advanced national and international standards. TASCMAR is expected to produce marketable biotechnological innovations that will increase sustainability in the commercial production of natural products from mesophotic marine organisms.
TASCMAR has nine main objectives: 1.Exploring neglected and underutilized marine species from the mesophotic zone; 2.Developing and applying innovative cultivation technologies; 3.Exploitation of high-tech extraction technologies; 4.Exploitation of cutting edge molecular isolation and identification technologies; 5.Building seven unique libraries of marine organism, extracts and biomolecules; 6.Discovering novel metabolites with anti-ageing activity; 7.Developing new biocatalysts from mesophotic microorganisms; 8.Engaging a comprehensive industrial valorisation scheme; 9.Engaging green and responsible growth driving economic performance

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

-WP1 (bio-resource management): two libraries dedicated to shallow reef invertebrates and their microbial symbionts were completed, sourced from the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. 302 symbionts were isolated and cultivated from 189 invertebrates (sponges, soft corals, sea anemones...) Significant progress was made in the collection of marine invertebrates from mesophotic coral ecosystems in Israel and Thailand.
-WP2 (chemical investigations): the chemical extraction of the marine invertebrate (MACLIB) and symbiont (MICLIB) libraries was carried out. After a first round of screening on anti-ageing targets, the 25 most bioactive MACLIB extracts were fractionated and submitted to a second round of bio-assays. Bioactive extracts were submitted to metabolomics analysis to dereplicate known compounds and to give consistent arguments regarding inter- and intra-community molecular communication networks. MICLIB extracts were also screened, revealing a high proportion of hits and super-hits to be investigated further in WP3.
- For WP3 (bioassays), MACLIB and MICLIB libraries were first screened on a varied set of molecular targets. Preliminary results show more than 45 hit extracts among which 16 super-hits.
work began on the isolation of marine microorganisms able to degrade organic pollutants and investigation of the enzymes involved was started. Target compounds were selected with specific target groups or skeletons (halogenated aromatic compounds). A set of shallow reef and mesophotic microorganisms were screened on the molecular targets. Many microorganisms were able to partially or totally degrade target compounds.
-WP4 (improvement of cultivation technologies for marine invertebrates and their symbionts): strategies and specific facilities are being developed for indoor and outdoor invertebrate cultivation. Innovative strategies are currently being tested in closed media which could be transferred to natural habitats. For the cultivation of marine symbionts, optimal media and cultivation conditions have been determined to stimulate biomass and secondary metabolite production. Innovative in-situ technologies were also implemented in the project’s first period.
-TASCMAR WP5 (innovative pilot-scale biotech equipment):CNRS and Pierre Guerin Technologies collaborate to develop ground-breaking technology covering diverse applications in the microbial fermentation field. The 3D interactive virtual design stage is now close to completion.
-WP7 (socio–economic and environmental impacts): during the first period, a first version of the Socio–Economic and Environmental impact assessment methodology was developed based on the existing literature and on the adaptation of well-established impact assessment methodologies developed in previous European research projects (SEQUOIA and IA4SI) to the engagement areas of TASCMAR. In month 13, the methodology was first applied to the environmental impact assessment dimension of this work package and main impact assessment sub-categories were identified. In the context of social and economic impact, stakeholders, end-users and project outputs were also defined.
-In WP8 (management and dissemination), a wide range of communication activities were launched, ranging from participation in scientific conferences to educational workshops and a short TV documentary broadcast in 158 countries and 13 different languages via the Euronews TV channel.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

TASCMAR focuses on tackling one largely under-investigated area of research, the mesophotic zone, and on working on the still partially unknown bioresources deriving from that zone. This implies a strong innovative potential about the management of the mesophotic resources and the necessary technologies, and to find environmentally sustainable solutions. The different and interlinked actions undertaken by TASCMAR refer to different areas of scientific knowledge and rely on a highly interdisciplinary approach: marine biology, environmental sciences, chemistry, engineering, marketing and communication skills are all part of the consortium. The description of the objectives (1.1) allows the identification of the project’s expected impacts and innovations, all revolving around the overarching goal to develop a new concept of sustainable bio-discovery pipeline of results, products and services.
TASCMAR is expected to generate social, economic and environmental impacts, which will be monitored throughout the project.

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