Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Algae is the key to unlock billion dollar industries


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 Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo
19.03.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Scientists develop new tool for imprinting biochips
09.03.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>