Funded through the EU Horizon 2020 programme, the MARBLES Project will develop new methods for the sustainable collection and use of biological resources from marine environments and assess their commercial potential.

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HORIZON 2020 (H2020-LC-GD-2020-3)

Research and Innovation Action (RIA)

Prospecting aquatic and terrestrial natural biological resources for biologically active compounds

May 2021 – April 2026 (60 months)

14 partners from 10 countries

Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands

€7.5 million

The marine environment remains a largely untapped and poorly understood source of natural products with potential for application in the pharmaceutical and food industries. Challenges include finding and identifying the bacteria and their molecules, extracting their active ingredients in a sustainable, effective way, and the commercial and regulatory difficulties of bringing a discovery from the lab to market. In the context of an increasing global population and the current climate and biodiversity crises, there is an urgent need to sustainably harness new compounds with pharmaceutical and nutritional applications. These are the issues that MARBLES will address.

  • To discover microbes and microbial consortia to be used as bioprotectants in aquaculture and agriculture.

  • To develop small molecule and microbial consortia formulations for sustainable commercial exploitation post project.

  • To discover microbial small molecule compounds with antifungal or antimicrobial activity.

  • To discover product candidates with potential human health applications, for commercialisation post project.

  • To discover elicitors that enhance expression of silent biosynthetic gene clusters for use in improved screening regimes for novel bioactive molecules from microbes.

  • To provide environmentally friendly alternatives to the prophylactic use of antibiotics in aquaculture and thus reduce the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

  • To provide environmentally friendly alternatives to the continued use of synthetic agrochemicals in agriculture.

  • To build upon existing buy-in with policymakers to provide science-based advice for important ongoing policy discussion related to bio-based biotechnology.

  • To communicate the findings of MARBLES to a diverse range of stakeholders and engage the public in advances in marine biotechnology and understanding the importance of biodiversity.

MARBLES integrated co-creation methodology and end user engagement will ensure uptake of results and impact. MARBLES will:

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Through nine Work Packages, MARBLES is addressing the challenges of finding and identifying the bacteria and their molecules, extracting their active ingredients in a sustainable, effective way, and the commercial and regulatory difficulties of bringing a discovery from the lab to market