The new laboratories were inaugurated in April, in Arraial do Cabo (RJ)

Primeiro-Tenente (RM2-T) Luciana Santos de Almeida – Brasília, DF

To broaden the studies in the area of Marine Biotechnology – the use of substances from living organisms and biological systems -, which will bring solutions to fight diseases such as cancer, recover areas with oil spills, produce industrial material and anti-fouling products are the objectives of the five laboratories of the Almirante Paulo Moreira Institute for Sea Studies (IEAPM), inaugurated in April of this year.

With them, it will be possible to create products originated from substances from living organisms, which are tested for different applications. “These new infrastructures enable us to develop bioproducts, which can be applied in the environmental, economic, and medicinal areas,” celebrated Marine Biotechnology Department researcher Giselle Lopes, PhD in Morphological Sciences and Post-Doctorate in Bioprospecting. To work in these laboratories, IEAPM has researchers – civilian and military, masters and doctors – who are specialists in Genetics, Biodiversity, Natural Products, Bioprospecting, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Morphology, Cultivation of Marine Organisms, Biofouling, and Bioinvasion.

Dr. Giselle Lopes explains that, currently, the projects of IEAPM’s Marine Biotechnology Department, headed by Dr. Ricardo Coutinho, are focused on developing innovative methods to monitor the impact of oil spills on the marine environment and health, as well as discovering how to combat the phenomena of marine biofouling and bioinvasion.

“Marine bioinvasion is the introduction of exotic marine species, i.e. from other regions. Invasive species can alter the composition and functioning of local ecosystems, proliferating disorderly and causing ecological and economic impacts. Some examples of bioinvasors in Brazil are the sun-coral (Tubastrea coccinea) and the golden mussel (Limnoperna fortunei),” said the researcher.

Marine biofouling, on the other hand, consists of the attachment of marine organisms such as mussels and barnacles to natural or artificial substrates (rocks and corals, for example). “When it occurs on artificial substrates, such as ship hulls, piers, and oil platforms, marine biofouling causes billions of dollars of damage a year, requiring constant docking, inspection, and replacement of materials. In addition, fouled hulls, rudders and propellers reduce the maneuverability of vessels and are therefore a frequent cause of preventable accidents.

Coral-Sol – Imagem: Ibama

Four of the new laboratories (Cellular Biotechnology; Gene Expression; Experimental Marine and Biofilm and Bioremediation) were built with partial resources from the National Council for Scientific Development (CNPq) and the Foundation for Research Support of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ) edicts related to the oil spill that occurred in 2019. The mobile laboratory, on the other hand, was built with funds from Petrobrás, from a partnership between the Leopoldo Américo Miguez de Mello Research and Development Center and IEAPM in the Coral-Sol Integrated Studies Project.

“To develop this study it was necessary to build a closed aquarium system, with continuous flow of water from the Guanabara Bay, which will be installed at the Directorate of Hydrography and Navigation to evaluate the survival of the Coral-Sol. Petrobrás supported the project with financial resources and IEAPM with infrastructure and personnel,” explained the Director of the Navy Technology Center in Rio de Janeiro, Rear-Admiral Alexandre de Vasconcelos Siciliano.

Gene Expression Laboratory – Image: IEAPM

Regarding the research on the Coral-Sol, the IEAPM Director, Doctor Eliane Gonzalez Rodriguez, highlights that it is important to study the species because it is present from the coast of Santa Catarina to Ceará. “Its main species that occurs in Brazil is Tubastrea coccínea. Because of it, impacts on ecosystems have been observed as reduction of native species, loss of biodiversity, and modification of coastal habitats. Although the sun-coral is among the most studied invasive species in the world, there are large gaps in knowledge, especially in relation to its socioeconomic and cultural impacts, which need to be better evaluated,” he points out.

The new laboratories – of Gene Expression; Experimental Marine; Biofilm and Bioremediation; Cellular Biotechnology; and the Mobile Marine Biotechnology – are part of the Marine Biotechnology Department of IEAPM, Scientific, Technological and Innovation Institution, linked to the Navy Technology Center in Rio de Janeiro.

Mobile Marine Biotechnology Laboratory

Dr. Eliane tells that, formerly, the Marine Genetics Laboratories at IEAPM were mostly used for the identification of marine species based on DNA sequences, an area of study known as molecular taxonomy, and now the infrastructure has been expanded to enable the manipulation of RNA.

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