Sea of miracles: industrial uses for ocean biodiversity

We are constantly on the search for ideas on how to improve our current technologies, like those used in agriculture or in medicine.  Searches can lead us to looking into the natural environment, revealing an array of compounds that can prove extremely useful.

Elizabeth Evans-Illidge from the Australian Institute of Marine Science argues that the oceans are an enormous source of compounds that have a wide range of uses - and we have only just began scratching the surface.

Elizabeth notes that protecting our marine ecosystems in their entirety is vital for ensuring that the myriad species (and their potentially useful compounds) are available for biodiscovery - the search for natural-based compounds that have potential applications.  She also argues that we need to take a good look at the legal and jurisdictional issues that may be hampering biodiscovery.

If you fancy reading a little more on biodiscovery (and subsequently bioprospecting - when we go back to gather more of the organisms) you can have a look at this FAO workshop paper

Image: Marine organisms have helped produce a number of medicinal technologies including bone grafts from coral skeletons.  Courtesy of NOAA