In the last ten years the effects of disease on natural marine communities have become increasingly apparent, with organisms as diverse as seagrasses, seals and corals suffering from major disease-related die-offs. Human impacts via pollution or climate change are thought to have played a major role in the impact of these diseases. Recent evidence indicates that a bacterial disease causes “bleaching” of the red seaweed Delisea pulchra.
The Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation (CMB) aims to be an international leader in the emerging field of holobiont biology and ecology, which focuses on the role that interactions between microorganisms and higher eukaryotes play in the function and health of host organisms and ecosystems.
Since its establishment in 1994, the Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation (CMB) has been a leader in both fundamental and applied research in the areas of microbiology and ecology. A particular focus of the CMB’s research is the interactions between microorganisms and their eukaryotic hosts. It is now increasingly recognised that eukaryotes ranging from humans to plants to invertebrates are not individual organisms, but are in fact complex communities comprised of the eukaryotic host and their associated microbial communities – that is, they are holobionts. This realisation is arguably a paradigm shift across much of biology, and is now influencing studies of everything from diabetes in humans to the functioning of marine ecosystems.
The scientific expertise within the CMB lies in the combined use of ecological and molecular approaches to gain insight into both positive (e.g. healthy development of the host) and negative aspects (e.g. disease) of holobionts. Underpinning these approaches are the CMB’s technical expertises in experimental ecology, analytical chemistry, environmental microbiology and -omics technologies. These combined and cutting-edge skills have the capacity and required resolution to accurately reveal information on holobiont function, both on a broad, environmental scale and a detailed, molecular level.
The CMB has a strong focus on advanced training and skill development for students and research staff. We offer unique training sessions and workshops that exchange and mediate skills and knowledge across a range of disciplines. Developing talented and multi-skilled researchers has led to many of our alumni achieving successful careers in academia, industry or the government sector. The CMB also has a large network of national and international collaborators, including the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences (SIMS) and the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), that make our members part of a global research effort.