Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 26

Submission from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

  1.  BBSRC welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Science and Technology Committee's inquiry "Investigating the Oceans". BBSRC is the principal UK funder of basic and strategic research and research training in the non-clinical life sciences at universities and research centres throughout the UK, including the BBSRC -sponsored institutes (see for details). The Council also promotes knowledge transfer from research to applications in business, industry and policy, and public engagement in the biosciences. (See for BBSRC's Strategic Plan, which outlines the Council's key objectives in fulfilling these aims).

  2.  Although marine biology is at the periphery of BBSRC's interests, the Council does have some interest in supporting research into marine organisms where this will allow study of interesting biological processes. Study of the marine environment does not fall within BBSRC's remit, except in studying the interactions between the marine environment and marine organisms. Three areas in which BBSRC has some interest in marine biology are:

    —  There is potential for biotechnological exploitation of novel processes in the marine environment (eg novel chemistries for bioprocessing; novel enzymes from hyperthermophiles and hyperbarophiles from deep-sea vents). Access to marine organisms and the necessary equipment for their subsequent exploitation is desirable and the UK has some activity in this area.

    —  There are increasing problems of maintaining the health of farmed fish against bacterial, viral and parasitic infections. Given the economic benefit of fish farming in some regions, we anticipate increased BBSRC-supported work on fish health in veterinary schools and the Roslin Institute.

    —  There is interest in understanding the effects and the mechanisms of control of agricultural run-off into catchments and subsequently to the marine environment. This is being studied through inter-institutional collaborations with BBSRC-sponsored institutes (eg the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) and the University of Wales Aberystwyth, UWBangor and CEH Bangor).

January 2007

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