3B-vent – Biodiversity, Biological interactions and Biotechnological products of coastal hydrothermal vents in Azores

PROJECT DESIGNATION: 3B-ventBiodiversity, Biological interactions and Biotechnological products of coastal hydrothermal vents in Azores

PROJECT CODE: ACORES-01-0145-FEDER-000112

MAIN OBJECTIVE:

This project will investigate the microbial diversity associated with marine species of coastal hydrothermal vents, to understand the biological interactions between host / microbioma in face of environmental changes. It is also aimed to identify bacteria and cyanobacteria with potential for new marine bioactive natural products that can be used in a wide range of applications and allow the establishment of innovative investments with economic / social benefits for the Azorean population.

Specifically, we will investigate:

  1. How different are coastal vent communities from the remaining littoral communities;
  2. What is the general community structure of vent microbiomes and how microbial communities vary over space and time;
  3. What host-microbial systems can be detected in such environments and which are more abundant, as well as if host-microbial associations are general or species/vent specific;
  4. If the species dominance is a consequence of microbial associations or a result of vent-specific environmental characteristics;
  5. What is the potential of vent microbiomes for biotechnology applications.

    The project will also:

  6. Promote the training and integration of specialized human resources in a multidisciplinary research team;
  7. Promote dissemination and increase citizen involvement in science by providing scientifically validated information on the biodiversity of coastal hydrothermal vents in the Azores.

     

    BENEFICIARY ENTITY: Fundação Gaspar Frutuoso / Universidade dos Açores

    ELIGIBLE TOTAL COST: € 179. 968,42

    EUROPEAN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUND (ERDF): € 152.973,16

    DESCRIPTION: 

    This project goals are in line with the priorities of the Operational Program of the Azorean Government regarding (i) strengthening research, technological development and innovation, and (ii) conserving and protecting the environment, and promoting resource efficiency.

    The project development involves collaborative actions of various actors, contributing to the conservation and valorisation of biodiversity, a relevant aspect of the Research and Innovation Strategy for Intelligent Specialization for the Azores (RIS3-Azores). The project addresses several RIS3-Azores strategic priorities. It will contribute to reinforce the positioning of the Azores as an intercontinental platform in the area of the knowledge about the oceans as it will strengthen research on new issues with economic potential, and will ensure environmental monitoring to promote sustainable exploitation of marine resources. It will increase the value of fishery products through the discovery of alternative marine products. It will contribute to the promotion of collaborative relationships and of innovative activities related to the sea, as it will foster the relationship between fisheries and other priority areas, and strengthen collaborative practices among research centres, companies, and public administration. Several RIS3-Azores intervention areas will be covered with the project development, namely: (i) climate change; (ii) evaluation, monitoring and ecosystems environmental protection; (iii) biodiversity and sustainability of marine species; (iv) marine biotechnology; (v) economy of the sea; and (vi) enhancement of marine genetic resources. Furthermore, the development of this project will also increase the scientific production of quality-oriented for an intelligent specialization.

    The project, coordinated by Ana I Neto, counts with a team of 9 researchers from 4 FCT research centres and with the collaboration of Aschwin Engelen (Centre for Marine Sciences of the Algarve), Jason Hall-Spencer (University of Plymouth) and the Azores Microbial Observatory (OMIC). Two contract positions will join the team in due time.

    RESULTS: 

    This project will fill the knowledge gap related to the characterization of shallow-water coastal vents of Azores in what concerns the: a) spatial and temporal variation of physical and chemical parameters; b) community composition and structure; and c) biodiversity, trophic structure and host-microbial associations. Also, this project aims to provide data for the construction of a bank of cultivable bacteria and cyanobacteria from these fascinating systems. Moreover, the project is expected to provide information regarding the capacity of isolates/ extracts for generating antimicrobial products and enzymes with technological potential.

    PHOTOGRAPHS (taken by the project team)