WP3 - Extreme environments deep marine biodiversity and biotechnology

Extreme marine environments, largely confined to deep environments, offer unique opportunities to discover new marine species which have developed special adaptation modes and, consequently, to discover molecules of potential biomedical and industrial interest (eg, new antibiotics active molecules, anticarcinogenic, pigments, antioxidants, vitamins, polyunsaturated fatty acids and enzymes that are widely used in medicine, cosmetic production, industrial surfactants production, refining of hydrocarbons, in bio-remediation or as dietary supplements). Overall, this field of research is known with the name of biotechnology or "Blue Biotechnology". The countries that have so far committed more to use and patent the new active molecules produced by marine organisms are Germany, USA, Japan and France: Italy is lagging behind and the RITMARE project offers a unique opportunity to reduce this gap with the more advanced countries.

In Italy among major interesting systems could be mentioned as hydrothermal vent (Panarea, Vulcano, Ischia), submarine volcanoes (Marsili, Palinuro), mud volcanoes (Strait of Sicily, Calabria dorsal), hypersaline anoxic lakes (Ionian). These systems offer unique opportunities to study micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria, archaea, protists), invertebrates (with physiological adaptations to extreme conditions, up to his waist in the absence of oxygen), the symbiosis between micro-and macro-organisms. The WP provides opportunities for involvement of industrial partners both in bio-medical/pharmacological sectors.

The WP is divided into the following activities:

  • AZ1 - Development of physico-chemical-biological technologies and instruments for deep extreme environments

  • AZ2 - Biodiversity associated with extreme deep environments

  • AZ3 - Bioprospecting for the detection of molecules and biological processes with potential applications in biotechnology

WP Leader Roberto Danovaro - CONISMA