PMS-ICBG in the News

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Meet the Moby-Dick of shipworms

It looks like a horror film creature that came from the deep, but researchers say it merely originated from "the shallows" of the Philippines. A team that includes scientists from the University of Utah is the first to recover and investigate rare, live specimens of a shipworm species known as Kuphus polythalamia.

Read the full article on KSL.

A tiny tropical castaway

"Driftwood. It’s one of the most common sights on our New England beaches. But did you ever wonder where it comes from? Ocean Genome Legacy Director Dan Distel does, and on a recent walk on the beach in Nahant, he found a surprising clue: an unusual castaway hiding in a piece of storm-tossed wood. The unlucky traveler was Teredora malleolus, a small wood-boring clam that is usually found in the balmy waters of the Caribbean..."

Read the full article in the OGL blog.

Deadly sea snail uses weaponised insulin to make its prey sluggish

The geographic cone snail can send whole schools of fish into hypoglycaemic shock by releasing insulin into the water - Press Association

A tropical sea snail uses a potent form of insulin to subdue its fish prey, scientists have discovered. The geographic cone snail (Conus geographus) uses the chemical to cause a plunge in the fish’s blood sugar, leaving it sluggish and unable to escape. The snail can entrap whole schools of small fish in this way. C. geographus is one of the most venomous creatures on Earth, and is known to have killed dozens of people in accidental encounters.

Read the full article in The Guardian and the original PNAS paper.

Malem Flores Selected IB's Most Outstanding MSc graduate

Congratulations to Malem Flores, a PMS-ICBG member for being the University of the Philippines - Institute of Biology's Most Outstanding MSc graduate this year!

You are truly an inspiration! We are so proud of you!

Unusual digestive systems of shipworms may help improve biofuel production

The ‘termites of the sea’ have super weird digestive systems, and they might help us make biofuels - By Rachel Feltman

Shipworms were already weird animals, but they just got weirder. The ocean-dwelling clams, which actually look much more like slimy worms, are some of the only creatures in the world that can eat wood. Now scientists have figured out that shipworms are even more unique than we thought: Instead of breaking down their food using bacteria in their guts (the way basically almost all animals do), shipworms break down wood using bacteria in their gills. This revelation was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with research lead by Daniel Distel, director of the Ocean Genome Legacy Center of New England Biolabs at Northeastern University. Distel, along with researchers from the U.S. Energy Department's Joint Genome Institute, is interested in harnessing the shipworm's unique ability to digest wood to improve the production of renewable, environmentally friendly fuels.

Read the full article in the Washington Post and the original PNAS paper.

The Scientific Impact of Nations: Journal Placement and Citation Performance

The report found that "international collaboration has a strong, positive influence on both journal placement and citation performance in most disciplines. As the number of countries represented in the author list increases, articles are more likely to be published in journals with higher impact factors and accrue more citations than peer publications which have fewer countries represented."

Read the full article in PLOS ONE.

PMS-ICBG biodiversity grant

According to Fogarty International Center, "In addition to diseases for which there are ineffective or no cures, key pathogens are becoming increasingly drug-resistant. As a result, many of the treatments and medications that the global health community has relied on for decades need to be replaced or supplemented with new medical interventions. To address this problem, Fogarty has awarded three grants totaling about $15 million over five years for research focused on biodiversity conservation and the discovery of new therapeutic agents derived from plants, animals and microorganisms in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

"Through an ongoing research initiative in the Philippines examining mollusks and the interactions with their associated bacteria, a team headed by grantees from the Oregon Health and Science University, in collaboration with the University of the Philippines is seeking to discover therapies for bacterial infections, as well as parasitic diseases such as toxoplasmosis and cryptosporidiosis, cancer, pain and other neurological conditions."

Ocean Genome Legacy at Northeastern University (video)

Ocean Genome Legacy (OGL) is a non­profit envi­ron­mental research orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to pro­moting new methods for the study and con­ser­va­tion of marine species through DNA preser­va­tion and analysis. At its new home at North­eastern, OGL will be a resource to uncover some of our ocean's deepest mys­teries and reveal genomic infor­ma­tion that can help cure dis­eases, pro­tect the envi­ron­ment, and improve the sus­tain­ability of global food and energy supplies. It will also facil­i­tate col­lab­o­ra­tions between sci­en­tists at the Marine Sci­ence Center and inves­ti­ga­tors around the world, offering the oppor­tu­nity to greatly expand the range of genomics evo­lu­tion inves­ti­ga­tions pos­sible for marine species.

View the YouTube Video here.

Synthesis and bioactivity of nobilamide B

An alternative and facile solution/solid-phase approach is reported for the total synthesis of neuroactive peptide, nobilamide B. Z-Dhb was formed in solution via EDC/CuCl induced elimination. The solid-phase synthesis employed HBTU/Oxyma PureTM coupling using Barlos resin.

Synthetic nobilamide B was also found to be neuroactive in primary cultures of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons.

Antibiotics of the future might come from the bottom of the oceans

Two separate studies recently published by a research partnership called the Philippine Mollusk Symbiont International Cooperative Biodiversity Group discuss how the future’s new class of antibiotics might reside at the bottom of the oceans. "The reason why this line of research is so critical is because antibiotic resistance is a serious threat to human health,” said Margo Haygood, Ph.D., a member of the OHSU Institute of Environmental Health. "Mollusks with external shells, like the cone snail, were previously overlooked in the search for new antibiotics and other medications," said, Eric Schmidt, Ph.D., a biochemist at the university of Utah and lead author of the article.

Read the full article on ZME Science.

Archived Articles

A timeline of PMS-ICBG publications

A beautiful visualization of the timeline of PMS-ICBG publications created using Timeline.js.

Ocean's 'shipworm' mollusks have health benefits

Nearly 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, yet 95 percent of what lies beneath the surface, is unexplored. That’s something researchers at Oregon Health and Science University are working to change. They believe what’s living in the ocean now, could save your life tomorrow. (Article form Portland Local News)

Cone snail bacteria may yield new opportunities for drug development

The cone snail is just one example of the opportunities the world’s biodiversity offers the pharmaceutical industry. And now, a new study may have researchers returning to the venomous creature in search of the next new drug.

Tomorrow’s Life-Saving Medications May Currently Be Living At the Bottom of the Sea

PMS-ICBG Researchers discover that symbiotic bacteria provide bioactive molecules to their hosts in shipworms and cone snails.

Charting new waters in the quest for new drugs

The Marine Science Institute has a long-storied and successful journey in drug discovery from the sea, with several research programs instituted in the last decade. These research programs have highlighted the potential of a wide array of marine organisms as sources of molecules with interesting chemistry and pharmacology. Article by Lilibeth Salvador-Reyes.