BIOtechnologies from the DEEP
BIODEEP Project proposes the exploration of unique habitats, namely the deep-sea hypersaline anoxic basins (DHABs) of the Eastern Mediterranean, and the isolation and culture of marine microorganisms, thereby offering new opportunities for discovery of novel chemicals with different potential application of European interest. The bacteria adapted to high-salt, anoxic and high-pressure conditions of the DHABs’ brines and the sediments could exhibit unique cellular properties with different industrial applications. Recent researches testify to the importance of understanding bioenergetics and gene regulation and control of barophilic, halophilic, and anaerobic microorganisms. The enzymes and metabolites of such microorganisms have applications in the chemical, cosmetic, food, pharmaceutical, biotechnology industries. One of the aims of BIODEEP Project, based on the collaboration between scientific and industrial partners, is to transfer results and develop new products for the European industry.
Therefore, BIODEEP is a response to Key Action 3 (‘Sustainable Marine Ecosystems’) of the Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development thematic Programme of Framework 5. It addresses in particular the target of Key Action 3.2.3 (‘Technologies for safe, sustainable and economic exploitation of marine resources’): ‘to facilitate biotechnological applications, identification of new marine biological resources, verification of their potential for applications, mass culture techniques for rare species’.
The principal objectives of the research programme are:
1) to develop and use new instruments and new techniques for geochemical and microbial exploration of deep, hypersaline, anoxic environments (DHABs).
For this purpose an existing deep sea instrumentation (MODUS, Mobile Docker for Underwater Sciences) shall be equipped with an innovative scientific package, that will allow the surface operators to carry out an accurate and controlled survey and sampling in and outside the brines; this package include also HPSS (High Pressure Serial Sampler);
2) to study, through chemical and physical analyses of samples (taken during the 2 planned specific cruises), the overlying water column, brines and sediments of four anoxic basins;
3) to study, by microbiological sampling in the four basins (during the 2 specifically planned cruises), the diversity/phylogeny of naturally occurring communities,
4) to isolate microorganisms and to characterise of the isolates, to assess microbial metabolic activities, genetic and enzymology of microbial isolates.
These objectives will be achieved using different and modern techniques in 7 European laboratories to ensure a good quality control of the results. Molecular analysis, different isolation and culture techniques, screening of DNA and RNA sequences of strains, genes, enzymes, secondary metabolites and cellular components are some of the biological techniques that will be used during the project.
The main BIODEEP expected deliverables are the following:
Environmental technologies: protocols for enrichment and isolation of new organisms and understanding of molecular factors that impart stability on DHABs-adapted biomolecules;
Data base of new DNA/RNA sequences of microorganisms inhabiting DHABs;
Data base of biologically active extracts (compounds and/or enzymes);
Culture collections of DHABs microorganisms with biotechnological application.