Marine biologists part of global effort to map genomes of life on earth

Posted on Jan 20, 2022

Bobtail squid


Without action to curb climate change and protect the health of global ecosystems, Earth is forecast to lose 50 per cent of its biodiversity by the end of this century.

Researchers from the Marine Biological Association (MBA) are collecting marine species in a UK-wide initiative to sequence the genomes (genetic information) of thousands of native species.

This collection will help build a digital library of DNA sequences for all known life forms and can help create effective tools for monitoring and protecting ecosystems, preventing biodiversity loss and enhancing ecosystem services.

Sequence locally, think globally: The Darwin Tree of Life Project has been published in a special issue of PNAS dedicated to the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP).

Collaborators hope that the extensive genome mapping will be used by evolutionary,...

Identifying environmental niche shifts is key for forecasting future species distributions

Posted on Jan 14, 2022


Marine Biological Association (MBA) Research Fellow Dr Nova Mieszkowska and PhD student Katherine Park from the Mieszkowska Group have published a paper in Diversity and Distributions on rapid niche shifts which act as drivers for the spread of non-indigenous species.

Non-indigenous species (NIS) are one of the biggest threats to global biodiversity. Identifying environmental niche shifts is key for forecasting future species distributions under rapidly changing environmental conditions.

Non-indigenous species (NIS) are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and understanding how niche shifts affect the spread of NIS is fundamental.

Using data from the Marine Biological Association's long-term MarClim project and other data sources around Europe, researchers found that the Pacific oyster M. gigas has rapidly shifted its...

Marine Biological Association 2020 to 2021: A year in review

Posted on Dec 9, 2021

2020 to 2021 has been an incredibly productive year at the Marine Biological Association (MBA). The Guinness World Records recognised The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) for having logged the greatest distance sampled by a marine survey and the Survey celebrated a 90 year milestone anniversary .

Other successes included the MBA reaching the highest number of research papers ever published (135), Dr Trupti Gaikwad receiving the Asian Women of Achievement Award and 3.5 million awarded in research grants.

To find out more about our many achievements over this 12 month period, please take a look at our 2020-2021 Annual Report. mba_2020_21_annual_report.pdf

Achieving the (almost) impossible – CPR Survey Operations Manager, Lance Gregory, reveals the challenges involved in setting up our latest CPR route, from Brazil to South Africa.

Posted on Dec 8, 2021

CPR Survey Operations Manager, Lance Gregory, presenting Pedro Ferreira with plankton print

As well as the routine, monthly tows, Continuous Plankton Recorders are also included in collaborative research projects, often involving many different countries and partners. Last month, the latest CPR tow hit the water as part of the EU funded AtlantECO project, and successfully carried out its first tow, collecting important plankton data from Brazil to South Africa.

Organising new tows like this one, and importantly, ensuring they are successful, involves an incredible amount of work and goodwill from people all over the world. Here, CPR Survey Operations Manager, Lance Gregory shares the story of this latest tow, and the many steps involved in achieving a successful tow.

“With the CPR’s involvement with the AtlantECO project, the Operations team at the CPR Survey in Plymouth, UK, were asked to set up a route from Brazil to South Africa. Looking back over the...

Innovative plankton monitoring tool holds key to assessing health of ocean life

Posted on Dec 7, 2021



A free, online tool created to make complex plankton datasets easier and more accessible for all, can help scientists understand more about the health of marine life.

The Plankton Lifeform Extraction Tool (PLET) brings together separate plankton datasets into one central database and formats the data into pre-defined lifeforms, making it easier for marine biologists to access robust, reliable plankton data.

This data will give a more accurate picture of the spatial and temporal location of ocean plankton and in turn provide data and critical information to inform policy, public interest and scientific discovery.

The online tool, hosted by the Archive for Marine Species and Habitats Data (DASSH) was developed by researchers from the Marine Biological Association with 15 partners across Europe with the research paper now published in the...

Ocean predators celebrated at international young marine biologist summit

Posted on Dec 1, 2021

Whale Shark

Whale Shark in Ras Mohammed National Park Credit: Cinzia Osele Bismarck / Ocean Image Bank

Ocean predators like rays and sharks are vital to creating balance and stability for marine life. The 2021 Young Marine Biologist Summit brought marine experts from around the world to highlight the importance of ocean predators, share knowledge and inspire the next generation of marine biologists.

Hosted by the Marine Biological Association (MBA) in partnership with Save our Seas Foundation ; speakers and guests from the United States, India, Sri Lanka, Somalia, The Philippines, Malta, Spain, and many more countries around the globe took part this year’s Summit.

The Guardian bestselling writer, broadcaster and science adviser Dr Helen Scales hosted the two-day online Summit alongside MBA Head of Communications Maya Plass.

Back by popular...

Multi-Million Pound Initiative Advances the Sustainable Management of UK’s Marine Resources

Posted on Nov 24, 2021


In the wake of COP26, the South West is to play a lead role in a major new initiative aimed at sustainably managing the UK’s coasts and seas.

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources (SuMMeR CDT) aims to deliver the next generation of researchers, solution providers and practitioners who will sustainably manage our marine resources.

Supported by £2.2million in funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, the Centre will train almost 50 interdisciplinary PhD students over the next seven years.

The SuMMeR CDT is being coordinated by some of the UK’s foremost marine science organisations. Led by the University of Plymouth, its core hosting partners include the University of Exeter, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the Marine...