NERC chooses MBA to deliver a 'blueprint' for public engagement with environmental research

Posted on Oct 15, 2017

Marine biological survey

The Marine Biological Association is leading a sector-changing public engagement project.

Selected by NERC, the MBA has been chosen, as part of a new ‘BLUEPRINT' consortium, to build capacity in public engagement with environmental research across the UK.

NERC has awarded a total of £500,000 to six projects to equip the environmental research sector to deliver effective, national-scale public engagement with contemporary issues of environmental science.

As one of the six successful bids, BLUEPRINT consists of nine institutions and organisations who will consolidate their learning, expertise and training into a 'blueprint' for how to build consortia, build capacity, and how to create innovative activities in public engagement.

By combining scientists, facilitators, creatives and skilled media communicators, the aim is to equip...

Love is in the air – citizen scientists are needed to help shed light on the sex life of the lugworm

Posted on Oct 14, 2017

Lugworm cast

The secret life of lugworms – citizen scientists are needed to help shed light on the sex life of this sediment-dwelling worm.

Love is in the air again this year along our coastlines and University of Portsmouth needs your help to keep an eye out for signs of passion in the lugworm population. The lugworm, Arenicola marina , is a vital source of food for wader birds and fish as well as playing a key role in fisheries as a source of bait. Volunteers are being asking to keep an eye out for any signs of love within the lugworm population on sandy shores around the UK. This species spends its life in a burrow in the sediment so opportunities to meet a mate are limited. Instead, the males release sperm which collects in “puddles” on the surface of the beach. When the tide comes in, the sperm is washed down into the burrows of the females and fertilises her eggs. Not a...

MBA & MARS Best Poster winner, European Marine Biological Symposium (EMBS)

Posted on Oct 11, 2017

Zahra Alsaffar from the Red Sea Research Centre, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia

Zahra Alsaffar from the Red Sea Research Centre, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia received first prize for the best student poster presentation at the 52 nd European Marine Biology Symposium. Dr Matthew Frost who presented the prize on behalf of the Marine Biological Association and MARS said the judging panel were impressed with both the quality of the poster and the knowledge and enthusiasm of Zahra in presenting her work. The judging panel also included Dr Tasman Crowe from University College Dublin and Dr David Stanković (pictured) from the National Institute of Biology, Slovenia.

The evolutionary origin of synapses and neurons

Posted on Oct 10, 2017

A new review article Evolutionary origin of synapses and neurons – Bridging the gap by Pawel Burkhardt, Research Fellow at the MBA and Professor Simon Sprecher from the University of Fribourg is online now.

The review highlights the need to take an integrative approach that considers unicellular organisms (the ichthyosporeans, filastereans and choanoflagellates) as well as metazoans, in order to fully understand the evolutionary origin of synapses and neurons.

Find out more about the work of the Burkhardt Group .

Looking into the functional roles of marine fungi

Posted on Oct 10, 2017

Marine fungi © Michael Cunliffe

The functional roles that marine fungi fulfil are poorly understood, resulting in a lack of knowledge of their ecology and biology.

This research, led by Michael Cunliffe, shows that some marine mycoplankton have a saprotrophic functional role in processing algal polysaccharides and may be involved in the trophic transfer of phytoplankton produced POC in marine food webs.

Read the abstract at Science Direct Algal polysaccharide utilisation by saprotrophic planktonic marine fungi

Find out more about the Cunliffe group and marine microbial biogeochemistry

How microbes access dilute nutrients in the open ocean

Posted on Sep 22, 2017

Microbe scale diagram

The most abundant organisms in the ocean are unicellular bacteria. Two species that occur in all oceans are Prochlorococcus marina – a photosynthetic cyanobacterium which produces ~25% of the oxygen on the planet each year – and Pelagibacter ubique – a heterotrophic bacterium that is the most abundant bacterial species in the sea. These tiny (<0.5 μm diameter), ubiquitous, free-living organisms have extremely streamlined genomes. They are also nonmotile. How do they acquire the nutrients that they need for growth if they are unable to swim towards nutrient sources?

Ian Joint (MBA), with Jonathan Zehr (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Joshua Weitz (Georgia Institute of Technology) have now shown that molecular diffusion is so rapid that it supplies daily requirements, even in the extremely oligotrophic oceanic gyres [1]

Bacteria are...

Lee Bay Biobllitz

Posted on Sep 22, 2017

MBA Bioblitz 2017

We are very pleased to announce that our 2017 BioBlitz will be at Lee Bay, near Illfracombe, North Devon on the 22nd - 23rdSeptember.

The event will be run in partnership with North Devon Coast AONB and Coastwise North Devon . Coastal Creatures and the Lee BioBlitz is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Lee Bay is set into a valley with abundant flora and fauna in woodlands, streams, rocky shore and cliffs which serves as an excellent lookout point for marine megafauna. As Lee Bay is tucked into a little nook on the North Devon coast we will be using the village hall as our base which is a 10 minute walk down to one of the most diverse rocky shores in the AONB. More information about Lee Bay can be found here: