Marine Drug Discovery Home
As a part of the drug discovery program, the microbiology group has developed a major culture collection of marine microbes (the Harbor Branch Marine Microbial Culture Collection, HBMMCC) derived in large part from deep-water sponges. The collection consists of over 17,000 microorganisms, with 11,000 from depths greater than 45 meters. Recent funding through the NSF Biotic Surveys and Inventories program allowed us to characterize a subset of the collection beyond the preliminary stage of microscopic, morphological, and Gram-stain identifications and showed extent of the biodiversity that is generated using our microbial isolation techniques (Sfanos 2005).
A total of 2,290 heterotrophic bacterial isolates have been identified. This subset contains 233 different taxa from 6 major bacterial clades (Alpha-, Beta-, and Gamma-Proteobacteria), CFB (Cytophaga, Flavobacteria, and Bacteroides), Gram+ High GC Content, and Gram+ Low GC Content.
The HBMMCC also holds over 1,600 fungal isolates. The majority (1,250) of these isolates were derived from marine invertebrates with the remainder isolated from environmental samples such as wood and water samples.
The development of this culture collection demonstrates the rich diversity of cultivable microorganisms that is present in the marine environment. Cultures are added to the collection at a rate of 250-500 per year.
The Harbor Branch Marine Microbial Database contains information on the subset of the collection that has been identified using molecular techniques.
Isolates are grown in liquid culture (fermentation) and extracted to provide material for the drug discovery program. Isolates are also tested for their activities in biotechnological applications.