Scientific orientation and Applications
Research Axis 1 adopts a novel approach to marine genomics by going further than describing and comparing genomes of marine organisms (i.e. comparative genomics) and embraces functional genomics, both in terms of biochemistry and biological genetic functions. Tools for environmental genomics are developed (metagenomics) and transfer of such approaches to the oceanographers community is emphasised. Research on biotechnologies and ‘blue chemistry’ creates links between biologists and structural chemists and drive a new research focus in France, marine chemical ecology, whilst bringing new molecular models to the chemists community.
Partners within Research Axis 1 converge around a common conceptual and technological base: systemic biology, structural chemistry and biology, polymer physico-chemistry, and share a common thread, which is summarised by the phrase ‘from genes to metabolites’. This base may contribute to other research directions (e.g. environmental genomics which relate to Research Axis 2, 3 and 4).
The most studied organisms are microbes (virus, bacteria, archae, microalgae), macro algae, invertebrates (molluscs, annelids, echinoderms) and fish, either as fundamental biological models or as economically important resources (whether for fisheries or for aquaculture). The most used types of methodologies from a biology point of view relate to molecular biology, genetics, genomics, biochemistry, cellular biology, and systemic biology (i.e. from molecule to organisms); and from a chemistry point of view relate to analytical chemistry, structural chemistry (proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, aromatic metabolites, halogen metabolites) and macro-molecular chemistry (physico-chemistry, biophysics).
The first type of application is to support selection programs for aquaculture species, in particular oyster farming, which represents a large economical sector in France. The links created through the GIS Europôle Mer between teams from CNRS and Ifremer are likely to generate new findings to genetically improve marine plants. Implementation of such expertise will require experimental deployment outside of France in places that are major actors in algae aquaculture: Chile and South East Asia.
A second type of application is to identify bio-active molecules for medical, para-parmaceutical and agricultural applications as well as developing biotechnological processes based on recombining proteins. User of such development are local companies (very few in this economical sector), large pharmaceutical groups (Servier, Sanofi-Aventis, Pierre Fabre…) that are outsourcing research of new active processes drawn out of marine resources, and biotechnological start-ups (to be created). To this end a company ‘nursery’ near the Biological Station of Roscoff will be a major advantage.