Micro B3 is based on a strong user- and data basis from ongoing European sampling campaigns to long-term ecological research sites. For the first time a strong link between oceanographic and molecular microbial research will be established to integrate global marine data with research on microbial biodiversity and functions. The Micro B3 Information System will provide innovative open source software for data-processing, -integration, -visualisation, and -accessibility. Interoperability will be the key for seamless data transfer of sequence and contextual data to public repositories.
Micro B3 will develop innovative bioinformatic approaches and a legal framework to make large-scale data on marine viral, bacteria; archaeal and protists genomes and meta-genomes accessible for marine ecosystems biology and to define new targets for biotechnological applications. Micro B3 will build upon a highly interdisciplinary consortium of 32 academic and industrial partners comprising world-leading experts in bioinformatics, computer science, biology, ecology, oceanography, bio-prospecting and biotechnology, as well as legal aspects.
Micro B3 will allow taking full advantage of current sequencing technologies to efficiently exploit large-scale sequence data in an environmental context. Micro B3 will create integrated knowledge to inform marine ecosystems biology and modelling. Moreover, it will facilitate detecting candidate genes to be explored by targeted laboratory experiments for biotechnology and for assigning potential functions to unknown genes. Micro B3 will develop clear IP agreements for the protection and sustainable use of pre-competitive microbial genetic resources and their exploitation in high potential commercial applications.
To underline the translational character of Micro B3, outreach and training activities for diverse stakeholders are planned as well as an Ocean Sampling Day to transparently make project results accessible and gain valuable user feedback.
Bioinformatics boosts biotechnology applications
Innovative bioinformatic approaches and a legal framework for making large-scale data on marine microorganism genomes and metagenomes more widely accessible have helped to define new targets for biotechnological applications.
The EU-funded http://www.microb3.eu (MICRO B3) (Marine microbial biodiversity, bioinformatics and biotechnology) project was established to improve Europe’s capacity to integrate bioinformatics and marine microbiological data. The aim was to benefit a range of disciplines in biosciences, technology, computing and law.
A highly interdisciplinary consortium included both 32 academic and industrial partners from all over Europe. It comprised world-leading experts in bioinformatics, computer science, biology, ecology, oceanography, bioprospecting and biotechnology, as well as legal aspects.
Work included mobilizing the wider research community for sampling the world’s ocean on three global Ocean Sampling days http://www.oceansamplingday.org (OSD). OSD included http://www.my-osd.org (MYOSD), the first citizen science campaign to enable citizens to perform microbial sampling of the ocean across the globe.
Project partners also employed current sequencing technologies to efficiently exploit large-scale sequence data in an environmental context. The data was used to create integrated knowledge to inform marine ecosystems biology and modelling.
Several bioinformatics tools were developed and tested. They included the 3DM database system, which used dedicated workflows for computational predictions of substrate selectivity of enzymes.
A novel tool used co-occurrence networks to determine hypothetical functions of unknown genes found in marine microbes. This in combination with an ultra-fast biosynthetic gene cluster recruiter was used to generate biotechnological relevant enzyme targets from metagenomes.
The consortium also developed intellectual property agreements for the protection and sustainable use of pre-competitive microbial genetic resources and their exploitation in high potential commercial applications. Outreach and training activities were conducted, as well as OSD/MyOSD, to make project results accessible and gain valuable user feedback.
MICRO B3 helped to overcome current obstacles in marine biodiversity research and blue biotechnology by enabling marine scientists and biotechnology developers to join forces with legal policy and communication experts and work together in an integrated way to achieve maximum results.