News Feature | February 25, 2014

The Ocean Holds A New World Of Treatment For Biotechnology

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By Liisa Vexler

We are forever in search of new biomaterials, constantly depleting our resources, when the most untapped wealth is just outside our reach. New research is now focusing on the life underneath the ocean’s edge. Harvesting the richest microorganisms available, a new team is reaching out to the depths of the sea. What makes these microorganisms so valuable is their ability to withstand extreme heat, cold, and the harshest of conditions that any viable organism is capable of. Since no other molecules are known to overcome such extremes, they hold promise for the world of biotechnology. If we are able to harvest their hardiness and use it to our advantage, it could open up a whole new stream of medicines and other useful materials for our civilization.

The limitation up until now has been the difficulty of devising any real sort of laboratory to harvest and study marine life. If microorganisms are transplanted to a more suitable place for studying, there is risk of tampering with their environment. If this occurs, they will most likely not survive. The MAMBA project was set out to overcome the obstacles by using techniques of “metagenomics.” It is a process that uses genetic methods to study single organisms.

By switching gears and developing a whole new way to study marine life from the ocean floor, the hope is growing that we will be able to use the microorganisms to further biotechnology sciences.