Marine ecosystems provide important resources locally and globally, and support the livelihoods of more than half a billion people around the world. Marine resources, however, are threatened by a number of different factors, including global environmental change, over-exploitation, pollution and environmental degradation caused by coastal development.
Our planet's population is predicted to rise from 7.8 billion to 9.7 billion by the year 2050 with major changes expected for coastal societies, and this, combined with coastal transmigration, may lead to doubling of marine resource exploitation over the next 50 years. Additionally, mining for mineral resources in the deep sea poses a threat to an ecosystem whose diversity is poorly understood.
Therefore, it has never been more important for marine biologists to understand the value of marine resources – not just coral reefs and fisheries and not just macroorganisms. In fact, using the marine environment to help meet many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (the Blue Biotechnology agenda) is underpinned by a need for more holistic understanding of diverse marine ecosystems and the interplay between all organisms within them.
There will be an initial focus on microorganisms, both cultivated and uncultivated, that provide a biotechnological 'treasure chest' by supplying novel metabolites and enzymes for pharmaceuticals and more sustainable industrial processes and products, including bioplastics. Invertebrates (and the microbes that they house) are also a major source novel pharmaceuticals, such as anti-cancer drugs and antibiotics to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistant pathogens. They are a source of other products as well as providing inspiration for novel materials.
The issues of biofouling and oil pollution, together with their biologically driven resolutions, will be explored in some depth. Resources from the deep sea and coastal environments will also be discussed in detail. Here, and throughout the module, you will explore the human element of marine resources, including issues of ownership of marine biodiversity, trade, tourism, conservation and sustainable management. Management strategies need to consider the main factors resulting in ecosystem demise from a multidisciplinary standpoint. However, protecting food security, access to clean water and sustainable economies are key requirements, and illustrate the delicate balancing act between the need for development and conservation.
- Introduction to Marine Resources
Introduction to Microbial Resources
- Diversity of marine microbial resources (Bacteria and Archaea).
- Diversity of marine microbial resources (Viruses, Fungi, Algae and Protozoa).
- Methods for capturing genetic information and cultivating marine microbes.
- Microbes for the clean-up of pollution (focussing on crude-oil spills and introducing the practical class).
- Marine biotechnology overview.
- Extremophiles as a resource for marine biotechnology.
- Marine invertebrates and microbes as sources of novel pharmaceuticals
Invertebrates: Bio-inspiration and Biofouling.
- Diversity of marine resources (Invertebrates).
- Marine biofouling.
Sustainable use of Marine Resources from the deep-sea to coral reefs.
- Introduction to resources in the deep sea.
- Conservation of benthic biodiversity versus mineral extraction.
- Deep-sea bioproducts and bioprospecting.
- Tropical marine aquaculture (seaweed, invertebrates, fish).
- Tropical marine fisheries.
- Aquarium and curio trade, coral mining.
- Reef-based tourism and tropical marine resource management.
Bioinformatics practical class.
- Microbial community analysis in response to a marine oil spill (6 hours).