Collection of Specimens for Marine Natural Products Drug Discovery
The HBOI Marine Drug Discovery Program (MDDP) has an extensive collection of marine organisms to support their research program. Many of these specimens were collected using the Johnson-Sea-Link I and II submersibles which have unique capabilities for collecting fragile specimens from the ocean floor. The submersibles allow the HBOI team to collect samples from sites including deep fore reefs, vertical walls, and boulder zones that are not accessible using trawls or dredges. Samples have been collected from around the Atlantic and Caribbean with a few samples coming from the Galapagos and Western Pacific. The group also collects specimens by scuba, snorkeling and wading. A small number of samples come from the Mediterranean, Indo-Pacific, Western Africa and the Bering Sea.
As part of our exploration program, the CMBBR has documented numerous deep-water habitats providing a first look at the incredible diversity of benthic and pelagic species present in deep-water coral and hard bottom habitats in the Caribbean. This information has been incorporated into numerous reports and has led to conservation management plans for a few of these areas including their recommendation for protection by the National Marine Fisheries Service as habitats of particular concern.
A recent initiative has been to create a Molecular Ark which preserves the DNA from all of the deep-water specimens collected over the past seven years. This repository provides scientific collaborators from around the world material to study the taxonomic diversity, gene diversity, biosynthetic potential and microbial communities of these deep-water specimens.