Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Algae is the key to unlock billion dollar industries

24.01.2002


Some of the world’s leading scientists are rubbing shoulders with experts at the University of Abertay Dundee to study tiny plant-like organisms that could unlock billion dollar industries for Europe.



Representatives from famous European universities and research centres, including the renowned Pasteur Institute in Paris and the Czech Academy of Sciences, are putting algae under the microscope in a project considered so important by the EU that it has been given a 1.75m Euro grant (around £1m).

Despite their small size, scientists have big plans for the little “living resources” which can have hundreds of applications, from being used in health foods to testing for poisons in water.


However, many strains have proved difficult to exploit because their fragile structures break up when cryogenically frozen, making it hard to conserve stocks for study.

Now, Abertay is taking a leading role in Europe’s attempt to grab a slice of the international market in a three-year long program named COBRA (COnservation of a vital european specific and Biotechnological Resource: micro Algae and cyanobacteria) which will see Europe’s best Algal experts merge minds for the first time ever.

COBRA Co-ordinator John Day, curator of the UK’s internationally respected Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa at Windemere, said UAD had been invited to help lead the study because of its renowned international reputation.

He explained: “The first phase of COBRA will see the project partners being trained in the latest cryopreservation techniques. The University of Abertay is known the world over for its international training experience in cryopreservation and was the obvious choice for this stage.

“The University’s Dr Erica Benson is also a leading light in cryopreservation and her decades of experience will be invaluable in her role as Assistant Co-ordinator as we begin to unravel the mysteries of these fascinating organisms.”

Dr Benson, Reader in Plant Conservation at Abertay’s School of Science and Engineering stressed the importance of their work to a wide variety of Europe’s industries.

She said: “Algae are one of the most important groups of organisms on Earth and are increasingly used in the healthcare, environmental and biotechnology industries. In Japan, the harvest of Nori algae is worth US$1bn alone.

“The future expansion of Europe’s industries is dependent on our ability to preserve and study algae so we can use them to greater effect.”

“COBRA will provide exciting opportunities to develop new methods of algal conservation and will enhance our understanding of algal molecular biology, stress physiology and biochemistry.”

Key to spreading the knowledge gained during COBRA will be the “virtual library” being designed by Abertay’s School of Computing & Information Services. It will feature digital images, videos of procedures and allow transfer of knowledge to locations thousands of miles apart.

Dr Benson commented: “The website will allow us to share expertise from one easily accessible resource.

“For example, work carried out in Dundee can be filmed and viewed by scientists in Portugal and Germany without them ever having to leave the lab. This will not only speed up our research but ensure that all of Europe has access to the best of our knowledge.”

Head of Abertay’s School of Science and Engineering, Professor John Palfreyman said the University was proud to have been invited to join such an elite group of scientists, reflecting the strength of teaching available to students at the University.

He commented: “Our involvement in COBRA is confirmation that the international scientific community considers our staff and facilities to be amongst the best in the world.”

“We will be host to colleagues from the Pasteur Institute, Germany’s University of Goettingen, Portugal’s Universidade de Coimbra, the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Czech Republic’s Academy of Sciences and a key European biotechnology company, Aquaartis.

“The involvement of UAD in this project is confirmation that the university
contains the top Environmental Sciences research unit in the Scottish
University sector as determined by the Scottish Higher education Funding
Council in their recent Research Assessment exercise (RAE).”

David Marsland | alphagalileo

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Bergamotene - alluring and lethal for Manduca sexta
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

nachricht How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics
13.04.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>