€1.9m to open the ‘black box’ of marine fungi

Posted on Dec 22, 2017

Marine mycoplankton

MBA Research Fellow and Lecturer in Marine Microbiology at the University of Plymouth, Dr Michael Cunliffe, is among 329 top researchers across Europe who have been awarded Consolidator Grants, the European Research Council (ERC) announced yesterday .

Fungi are the great decomposers, breaking down complex organic material and making it available for growth, but they aren’t just found in the woods. The MYCO-CARB (FUNCTIONAL BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY OF PLANKTONIC MARINE FUNGI – Revealing the mechanistic basis of the roles of mycoplankton in the marine carbon cycle) research programme, led by the MBA, has received €1.9m to fill the gap in our understanding of fungi in the sea.

The roles that marine planktonic fungi (mycoplankton) fulfil in marine ecosystems have been largely ignored compared to other plankton groups, such as phytoplankton. Until we understand how mycoplankton...

Molecular mechanism of proteins involved in animal cell signalling characterized

Posted on Dec 22, 2017

A new article in the Journal of Biological Chemistry : "Evidence for a conserved inhibitory binding mode between the membrane fusion assembly factors Munc18 and syntaxin in animals" by Pawel Burkhardt , Research Fellow at the MBA in collaboration with Dirk Fasshauer from the Université de Lausanne decribes the precise mode of interaction between membrane fusion factors involved in secretory vesicle trafficking.

Read the abstract here .

From lab bench to backbench - MBA joins Royal Society pairing scheme

Posted on Dec 5, 2017

Westminster Hall
The MBA's Matt Frost (4th from right) among the intake of scientists at Westminster Hall for the Royal Society pairing scheme 2017.

The MBA's Matt Frost is at Westminster this week, taking part in the Royal Society's pairing scheme .

During his visit Dr Frost will shadow Sheryll Murray MP and learn about her work. As well as attending seminars and panel discussions about how evidence is used in policy making, Dr Frost will also attend a mock Select Committee.

Dr Frost is no stranger to the science-policy interface; he is a regular visitor to Westminster, responding to consultations on the marine environment and providing evidence to Select Committees. The pairing scheme is extremely valuable as he will get a behind-the-scenes insight into how policy is formed and how his research can be used to make evidence-based decisions. It will also give Sheryll Murray the opportunity to investigate the science behind her decisions and improve their access to scientific evidence.

Dr Frost said, "I...

Unlocking the microbiome - new report out now

Posted on Nov 29, 2017

Declan Schroeder. Image Maya Pfaff
Dr Declan Schroeder sampling a bloom of microalgae.

The microbiome is the entire community of microbes within a habitat and the surrounding environmental conditions. It holds arguably the most important and extraordinarily diverse forms of life on the planet, and sustains the biodiversity of life on Earth.

The Microbiology Society’s report ‘ Unlocking the Microbiome ’ was launched on 15 November 2017. It explores opportunities and challenges for microbiome research identified over the course of the Microbiome Policy Project. It will also provide an opportunity for multidisciplinary networking and knowledge exchange between researchers, funders, learned societies, policy advisers and other stakeholders interested in microbiome research.

The MBA’s contribution to the report through Dr Declan Schroeder (Senior MBA Fellow and member of the expert panel) can be seen in particular in Section 4.3. Environment - highlighting...

MCCIP report demonstrates collaborative science partnerships at COP23

Posted on Nov 20, 2017

In her speech during the COP23 conference in Bonn, MP Thérèse Coffey showed great enthusiasm for marine issues. Both the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) and the UK Ocean Acidification Program (UKOA) were mentioned as examples of collaborative science partnerships.

The most recent MCCIP report draws heavily on Interim Director of the MBA, Dr Matt Frost et al.'s 2017 paper " Reporting marine climate change impacts: Lessons from the science-policy interface ".

Dr Coffey said "The UK set up the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) to provide verifiable evidence of the effect of climate change. This brings together scientists, government, its agencies and NGOs and has just published “Marine Climate change Impacts - 10 years’ experience of science to policy reporting”.

On the previous day (10th November), there had been a EU...

The marine environment after Brexit: the future for science and policy

Posted on Nov 9, 2017

The MBA and British Ecological Society (BES) ran a major conference on 31 October looking at the post-Brexit landscape for science and policy.

The event aimed to:

Identify the key challenges and opportunities for marine environmental policy in the UK after Brexit; Highlight the role of marine biological and ecological science in addressing these challenges, including existing knowledge and future research needs; Identify the priorities for enhancing the UK’s status as a world leader in marine science and maintain effective international collaboration.

The outputs of the event will inform the development of a joint British Ecological Society and Marine Biological Association policy brief

Jill Barrett , an expert in international law, set the scene with a presentation on the effect of Brexit on the UK’s international law obligations relating to the marine...

The mysterious nocturnal migrations of skates

Posted on Nov 8, 2017

A blonde ray Raja brachyura

MBA scientists have shown for the first time how skates make night-time forays into shallower water. This unique window on the fine details of fish behaviour was made possible by data from electronic tagging, and may influence the management of these vulnerable species.

The skate species in the study were blonde ray ( Raja brachyura ), thornback ray ( R. clavata ), small-eyed ray ( R. microocellata ) and spotted ray ( R. montagui ). MBA researchers analyzed the data from 89 tags from recaptured skates. Combining the results with their knowledge of skate ecology, a credible picture of previously unknown migratory behaviour emerged in which skates move across a varied seabed topography, searching and foraging for food along the way.

The exact reasons for these journeys remain a mystery but the study rules out some explanations, for...