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The essentials of marine biotechnology.

Rotter, Ana; Barbier, Michéle; Bertoni, Francesco; Edwards, Christine


Ana Rotter

Michéle Barbier

Francesco Bertoni


Coastal countries have traditionally relied on the existing marine resources (e.g., fishing, food, transport, recreation, and tourism) as well as tried to support new economic endeavors (ocean energy, desalination for water supply, and seabed mining). Modern societies and lifestyle resulted in an increased demand for dietary diversity, better health and well-being, new biomedicines, natural cosmeceuticals, environmental conservation, and sustainable energy sources. These societal needs stimulated the interest of researchers on the diverse and underexplored marine environments as promising and sustainable sources of biomolecules and biomass, and they are addressed by the emerging field of marine (blue) biotechnology. Blue biotechnology provides opportunities for a wide range of initiatives of commercial interest for the pharmaceutical, biomedical, cosmetic, nutraceutical, food, feed, agricultural, and related industries. This article synthesizes the essence, opportunities, responsibilities, and challenges encountered in marine biotechnology and outlines the attainment and valorization of directly derived or bio-inspired products from marine organisms. First, the concept of bioeconomy is introduced. Then, the diversity of marine bioresources including an overview of the most prominent marine organisms and their potential for biotechnological uses are described. This is followed by introducing methodologies for exploration of these resources and the main use case scenarios in energy, food and feed, agronomy, bioremediation and climate change, cosmeceuticals, bio-inspired materials, healthcare, and well-being sectors. The key aspects in the fields of legislation and funding are provided, with the emphasis on the importance of communication and stakeholder engagement at all levels of biotechnology development. Finally, vital overarching concepts, such as the quadruple helix and Responsible Research and Innovation principle are highlighted as important to follow within the marine biotechnology field. The authors of this review are collaborating under the European Commission-funded Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action Ocean4Biotech – European transdisciplinary networking platform for marine biotechnology and focus the study on the European state of affairs.


ROTTER, A., BARBIER, M., BERTONI, F. et al. 2021. The essentials of marine biotechnology. Frontiers in marine science [online], 8, article 629629. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 8, 2021
Online Publication Date Mar 16, 2021
Publication Date Dec 31, 2021
Deposit Date Mar 18, 2021
Publicly Available Date Mar 18, 2021
Journal Frontiers in Marine Science
Electronic ISSN 2296-7745
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Article Number 629629
Keywords Bioprospecting; Blue growth; Marine biodiversity; Marine natural products; Sustainability; Ethics; Responsible research and innovation (RRI); Marine bioeconomy
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