The passion for discovery is the driving force behind the research taking place at the Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology partnership. UMCES researchers based at IMET are working in four key areas, seeking new ways to expand our understanding of the marine environment.
UMCES@IMET scientists use molecular approaches to study the diversity of marine microbes, phytoplankton and fish. Our improved understanding of marine biodiversity can open up new opportunities for beneficial use of microbes and is essential to monitoring and mitigating impacts of climate change.
Ocean Health and Human Heath
UMCES@IMET researchers are actively involved in research programs examining how both people and our oceans are impacted by environmental change. They are examining how:
- Harmful algal blooms are a growing problem in estuarine ecosystems worldwide, adversely affecting human health and serving as an indicator of poor ecosystem health.
- Viral, bacterial and protozoal diseases are impacting key Chesapeake Bay species such as blue crabs and oysters.
- The marine environment - especially marine invertebrates and their associated microbes - are sources of diverse bioactive compounds that can provide new pharmaceuticals.
- Improvements in aquaculture, including in the feed used to grow fish, can reduce environmental impacts of aquaculture and help improve human health by providing high-quality fish for consumption.
Marine and estuarine microalgae can grow rapidly and produce high concentrations of lipids that can be converted into biodiesel. These microalgae can be grown in high-salt water that is not suitable for agriculture and can utilize waste streams for nutrients, reducing eutrophication of estuarine environments.
UMCES@IMET scientists have expertise in isolation of novel microalgae, understanding their interactions with symbiotic microbes, optimizing production of suitable lipids, and taking genomic and metagenomic approaches to achieve stable, highly productive microalgal cultures for biofuel production.
Consortia in Marine Ecosystems
Many marine organisms harbor complex communities of microbial symbionts that are important for their health and for the production of bioactive compounds. Bacterial symbionts of microalgae and dinoflagellates affect the growth and toxin production of their hosts. UMCES@IMET researchers are pushing the envelope of discovery to see where these recent breakthroughs will lead.