Our Science

Marine Science

The Marine Biological Association is recognised for advancing the frontiers of knowledge from cell signalling and neurobiology through to ecology and biological oceanography.

Since the nineteenth century, marine research has been central to our philosophy. We were formed as a society to carry out in-depth scientific research into the interconnected marine environment. Over the centuries, we have made a positive impact on both our planet and society’s health and well-being.

Today, our science covers all biological scales from the microscopic to the ocean-basin and our broad research themes reflect this. They are the Marine Microbiome, Coastal Ecology and Ocean Biology.


Coastal marine ecosystems are highly diverse and productive and provide natural resources to billions of people worldwide. However, human activities such as fishing, aquaculture and energy production have impacted coastal habitats, sometimes changing entire ecosystems. Much of our science looks at changes along our coastlines that have occurred in response to both large scale pressures such as climate change and more localised stressors such as invasive species. Our research aims to better understand the causes and pathways of change in these vital coastal ecosystems to facilitate management and conservation in the coming decades.

Microbial life has dominated the marine environment for billions of years. Microbes make our oceans work by forming and sustaining biogeochemical cycles and underpinning food webs. They can be impacted by ongoing global change and other human activities, and yet are a valuable source of biomolecules and enzymes with great biotechnological potential. Our work is opening the marine microbiome ‘black box’, revealing the biology and ecology of a range of different microbial groups including viruses, bacteria, phytoplankton and fungi.


Ocean Biology

Our ocean is a huge heat sink and absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide. The ocean plays a central role in mitigating climate change. MBA researchers focus on the impact this has on ocean biology, from plankton to sharks. Our research looking at spatial dynamics of marine life, environmental changes and human impacts underpin advice that helps in the effective management of the ocean based upon new understandings of plankton and fish dynamic and how they function within the marine food web and environment.