The Future in Blue - EMBRIC Achievements

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Paris, 23. May. All partners of the European Marine Biological Research Infrastructure Cluster (EMBRIC) met for the Final General Assembly of the project from 21.- 23. May in Paris. In the focus: the main project achievements, success stories of the discovery pipelines and the route forward beyond EMBRIC.


Four years ago, EMBRIC was called into life to set up multidisciplinary value chains of services to explore and sustainable exploit marine bio-resources – as sources of biomolecules and/or as whole organisms for food. The cluster united various Research Infrastructures (RIs) which provided access to the full spectrum of marine organisms or expertise on data services and management. With all this knowledge gathered, the cluster developed well-functioning workflows for natural products discovery. “EMBRIC has developed into this powerful instrument to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and innovation from marine bioresources”, emphasized Bernard Kloareg, Professor at the Sorbonne Université and coordinator of EMBRIC in his opening speech. At the centre stage of the final presentations: the main project achievements – from a scientific and network perspective.


Aligning on the methods. All RIs have different workflows and approaches. EMBRIC has succeeded to connect them better and establish a virtual screening platform. The project initiated the process to set-up a searching tool that can go through all databases. To improve and standardize methods for culturing, quality control and shipment, several current trends and techniques were analysed and recommendations submitted. A data management service – the EMBRIC Configurator – was successfully set up to help with the management, analysis and interpretation of marine data. Until the end of the project, it provided 16 tailored configurations.

Pipelines for marine bioproducts. European RIs are centres of excellence which offer technologies, knowledge and skills to scientists and entrepreneurs from the academic and private sector. EMBRIC mapped this expertise and created a user-friendly interface to match the potential user with the right contact person. The pipeline offers technologies for the route to useful secondary metabolites, carbohydrates and proteins. EMBRIC succeeded to establish three discovery pipelines for marine secondary metabolites, marine proteins and marine carbohydrates as well as two company fora on aquaculture and microalgae. These newly established workflows were not only used within the EMBRIC community, but accessed by industrial and academic users worldwide.

Transnational cooperation. In the EMBRIC Transnational Access program the RIs offered access to their facilities to enable scientists from academia and industry to carry out research projects on marine organisms. Overall, 31 teams applied to the program and 24 projects were accepted. Most of these applications came from academia. One challenge – especially for the industry – was the time limit for the visits and their transnational nature.

Scientific success stories. Knowing that there are many unknown metabolites in marine bacteria and following the hypothesis that if a molecule is found infrequently, it is likely to belong to a group of specialized chemistries, researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research set up an interesting analysis. In a combination of in-house library match, manual dereplication via online databases, clustering, molecular network and fragmentation pattern analysis they achieved an improved and faster annotation of known metabolites, the visualization of the global chemical space at molecular level, strain prioritization based on a “novel contribution” approach and insights on chemical structures of unknown metabolites. In another success story, the EMBRIC team characterized several valuable microalgal transgenic strains. Selected strains with encouraging properties were selected for metabolic profiling and purification and showed high contents in antioxidants (Carotenoids). In a next step, the carotenoid production was optimized. To continue the development, a spin off company (JB Guyon) was founded. In a third success story, scientists from INRA looked at the genetics of feed conversion efficiency in European sea bass and found out that the ability of fish to convert feed to biomass differs and is heritable. A good conversion rate improves profitability and environmental sustainability. Hence, the resumé of the scientists: Selective breeding can produce significant gains. (More information on the success stories will be available soon on the EMBRIC website).

While the project ends, the cooperation will last. “The cooperation does not end here. The Research Infrastructures which are partnering in EMBRIC, namely EMBRC, MIRRI, Aqua-Excel, EU-OS, Elixir and RISIS have agreed in a Letter of Intent to continue the collaborations established during EMBRIC”, highlighted Bernard Kloareg at the end of the meeting. Although the project ends, partners will stay in touch through the established networks.




Scientific and technical manager of the EMBRIC project:
Amélie Lecornec
Tour Zamansky, Office 1711
4, place Jussieu | 75252 Paris

Media contact EMBRIC:
Laura Griestop
Lützowstr. 33-36
10785 Berlin, Germany

Press release