The CMBBR has active research programs in two areas of marine biotechnology: the use of marine microorganisms; and the cultivation of invertebrates and their cells under laboratory conditions.
Providing adequate supplies of marine natural products remains a daunting challenge. Approaches to address this issue include methods at the organismal, cellular and molecular levels. Aquaculture efforts funded by HBOI and Sea Grant have provided base-line data for the culture of sponges and ascidians. Using a model sponge system, the Invertebrate Cell Culture group has developed techniques for primary culture and monitoring of growth and production of bioactive metabolites. Many groups, including the CBMMR, consider the microbial population of the invertebrate to be the original source for the synthesis of many marine natural products and consequently much of the our research is targeted towards understanding the microbial population of specific sponges and the identification of potential producers of specific metabolites. One of our current projects, funded by Sea Grant, is targeting the producer of leiodermatolide.
Marine microorganisms are also being studied as a source of novel enzymes and industrial chemicals.