Marine microorganisms form an almost untapped resource of biotechnological potential. However, its use is hindered by the low success rate of isolation of novel microorganisms and often by poor growth efficiency.
Hence, the vast majority of marine microorganisms has not been cultivated and is often considered as ‘unculturable’. MaCuMBA aims at improving the isolation rate and growth efficiency of marine microorganisms from conventional and extreme habitats, by applying innovative methods, and the use of automated high throughput procedures.
Matis’ tasks in the MaCuMBA project are: i) To perform in situ enrichments in coastal hydrothermal vents and to collect natural samples from various marine extreme environments and in the open sea. ii) To develop new culture techniques for enriching and isolation of uncultured microorganisms with expected biotechnological potential. iii) To use new rational culture methods by mimicking nature (temperature, light, substrate and salinity fluctuations, co-culturing) in the laboratory and use metagenomics and cell sorting for discovering efficient and controlled culture methods for further exploitation. And iv) to increase biomass production and preserve new isolates.
The approaches used include the co-cultivation of interdependent microorganisms, as well as gradient cultures and other methods mimicking the natural environment, and the exploitation of cell-to-cell communication. Signalling molecules produced by microorganisms may be necessary for stimulating growth of the same or other species, or may prevent their growth. Signalling molecules also represent an interesting and marketable product.
MaCuMBA will make use of high throughput platforms such Cocagne, using gel micro-droplet technology, or MicroDish in which many thousands of cultures are grown simultaneously. Various single-cell isolation methods, such as optical tweezers, will aid the isolation of specific target cells. Isolated microorganisms as well as their genomes will be screened for a wide range of bioactive products and other properties of biotechnological interest, such as genetic transformability. Growth efficiency and expression of ‘silent’ genes of selected strains will be increased also by using the clues obtained from genomic information. MaCuMBA is targeted to SMEs and industry and they make a significant part of the consortium, ensuring that the project focuses on the interests of these partners. Moreover, MaCuMBA has adopted a comprehensive and professional exploitation, dissemination, implementation, and education strategy, ensuring that MaCuMBA’s results and products will be directed to end-users and stakeholders.
For further information please contact Oddur M. Gunnarsson.