Project overview

A virus attacks Emiliania huxleyi
A virus attacks Emiliania huxleyi ©

The Marine and Freshwater Microbial Biodiversity (M&FMB) programme is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and brings together research groups from all around the UK. Its main aims are:

  1. To improve our knowledge of the diversity of microbial life in oceans, lakes and rivers and use this knowledge to help us understand how different species interact to affect the environment. This includes:
  • Discovering new microbial species.
  • Improving methods of rearing these species in the laboratory for use in experiments.
  • Investigating how microbes communicate via cell signalling. Examining microbial involvement in natural cycling of various chemicals and the impact of this on the global environment.
  • Looking into the processes behind algal blooms in which sudden increases in numbers of algae can lead to other forms of aquatic life being starved of oxygen.
  1. To investigate the potential of marine and freshwater microbes for use in the biotechnology industry. For example:
  • Discovering new antibiotics.
  • Using substances produced by microbes in cancer treatment.
  • Identifying possible uses of novel enzymes and proteins in biodegradation, biocatalysis and the biomedical sector.