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Marine Sponge Biotechnology: An Ocean of Discoveries for New Industrial Products
Author:        Updatetime:2013-06-24 Printer      Text Size:A A A 

Title: Marine Sponge Biotechnology: An Ocean of Discoveries for New Industrial Products

Presenter: Prof. Wei Zhang

University: School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Time: 13:30-14:30, June 24, 2013

Venue: Room E120, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Abstract: Marine sponge (Porifera) is the evolutionary oldest, first multicellular animal dated back to nearly 700 million years ago (MYA). They have been proven to be the single best source of marine natural products, contributing up to 30% of all marine natural products discovered by far. With such a high diversity of secondary metabolites, marine sponges possess unique biosynthetic pathways and a myriad of enzymes that catalyse many biological reactions to produce these diverse chemical structures of industrial significance. Australia with one of the longest coastline in the world is one of the top sponge hotspots that remain largely unexplored for these new industrial products opportunities.

This presentation will present an overview on the ocean of discoveries for potential new industrial products from marine sponges. These products include marine drugs for anticancer, neurodegenerative diseases, antiviral and antibiotics; marine biomaterials such as biosilica; agriculture pesticides from marine sponge-associated bacteria; biosensors for environmental monitoring and assessment of global climate changes; and new enzymes for industrial biotechnology. Drawn on the past 12 years of researches in the authors’ laboratory, several case studies of marine sponge biotechnology will be discussed to highlight the unprecedented opportunities for new industries.

With so many new industrial product opportunities from marine sponges, the challenges in translating the product discovery into commercialization outcomes are in many ways the lack of sustainable production methods. This presentation will discuss different production pathways and their latest development, especially the development of sponge aquaculture and in vitro sponge cell culture in bioreactor. While significant progresses have been made, the commercial biotechnology production is yet to come.

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