The Black Sea, a unique ecosystem in the world through its peculiarities, harbors organisms that could be the key to sustaining green biotechnology in the future.
Teredo navalis, commonly referred to as the ”sea worm”, is a worm-like marine shellfish that, in the past, through its feeding mode, has caused major economic damage perforating boats and woodworking hydrotechnical structures. Its diet is almost exclusively made of wood fiber, on which it clings in the larval stage. Once penetrated into the wood, it digs through a perfectly rounded groove in which it grows with the dislocated material as food.
Today, the interest in these marine creatures is due precisely to the fact that, for digesting the wood, it presents a community of microorganisms in the gills capable of decomposing the plant fiber.
The realization of complex genetic studies on teredinids, as well as on these endosimbionts is the central aim of an international project (METAMINE), involving universities from Romania, Norway, Germany and Portugal.
The fact that wood has been replaced almost entirely by metal has made the obtaining of biological material for study to be difficult, and it was necessary to place special traps in the sea.
However, researchers from the National Institute for Marine Research and Development ”Grigore Antipa” Constanta and the University of Biology in Bucharest managed to capture living individuals of Teredo navalis, on which is to be premiered a DNA level research in order to discover how endosimbion microorganisms decompose lignin and cellulose, the main components of plant fibers.
The results of the project will be an important step in setting up biotechnologies for the production of biofuels from wood debris.
ANEMONE (Assessing the vulnerability of the Black Sea marine ecosystem to human pressures) is funded by the ENI CBC Black Sea Basin Programme 2014-2020, Project Number BSB319.
(Last Updated On: March 21, 2019)