Thanks to the rich biodiversity and special conditions of marine ecosystems, the ocean can provide an astounding variety of molecules with unique features and unmatched complexity.
Marine invertebrates (like soft corals, sponges and sea anemones) are becoming widely recognised as a source of bioactive compounds and biomaterials, with diverse commercial applications, from cosmetics and medical drugs to bioremediation. The main bottleneck that remains is the sourcing of marine biodiversity. TASCMAR will develop innovative technologies for the cultivation of invertebrates and their associated microorganisms to respond to a key challenge set by the EU Blue Growth Strategy: to make discovering and commercialising marine-derived molecules more sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly.
Exploring neglected and underutilized marine species (NUS) from the underexploited mesophotic zone: In addition to sponges and soft corals, anemones and echinoderms are considered key target invertebrates in TASCMAR. These organisms will be evaluated together with their symbionts. The explored marine area will include the under-investigated Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs, 30-100 m depth).
Exploitation of innovative cultivation technologies: Two innovative technologies developed by TASCMAR partners will be implemented – integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA), for marine invertebrates and solid-state fermentation based on Platotex™ technology, for marine symbionts. The proofs of concept have been developed and demonstrated for both technologies and working prototypes are already up and running in TASCMAR shared facilities.
Exploitation of high-tech extraction technologies: High-pressure static extraction (Zippertex™ technology), sub-critical water extraction and solid-solid extraction will be implemented in TASCMAR. Proofs of concepts have been developed and demonstrated and working prototypes are already available in TASCMAR shared facilities.
Exploitation of cutting edge molecular isolation and identification technologies: Accelerated and efficient discovery of novel bioactive compounds will be applied through an integrated state-of-the-art and high-throughput technological platform incorporating hyphenated analytical and spectroscopic methods, metabolomics, and dereplication procedures.
Building seven unique libraries of marine organism, extracts and biomolecules: TASCMAR will build and manage two invertebrate collections as well as two microorganism collections, one extracts library, one library for isolated identified compounds, and one library for biocatalysts.
Discovering novel metabolites with anti-ageing activity: Extracts and/or pure compounds produced during TASCMAR will be evaluated using cell-free, human cells-based, in-ovo and in-vivo screening platforms, for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and cosmeceutical applications.
Developing new biocatalysts from mesophotic microorganisms: The bio-catalytic capabilities of symbionts from mesophotic invertebrates will be screened on target substrates and key reactions. Relevant enzymes will be isolated and developed as specific biocatalysts.
Engaging a comprehensive industrial valorisation scheme: The project outputs will be exploited in a diverse range of industrial sectors:
- industrial equipment,
- drug discovery,
- enzymes and microorganisms for bioremediation
Engaging green and responsible growth driving economic performance: The activities in the project will be continuously evaluated for their socio–economic and environmental impacts to ensure sustainable growth.