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Algae Sampling Technology Partnership to Find, Exploit Novel Chemical Compounds

NOAA Great Lakes Researcher holding algae culture

Too small: sampling this much of an algal bloom doesn’t provide a clear enough picture of what’s going on between all members of the microscopic community (image courtesy NOAA OAR, )

A pharmaceutical research and development startup and NOAA signed an agreement designed with two goals in mind.

The company, Biosortia, plans to discover and extract beneficial compounds from natural sources such as algae, and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science wants to use Biosortia’s harvesting technology to unlock aquatic microorganisms’ secrets in a brand new way.

The agreement, in formal parlance a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement or “CRADA,” centers on a piece of equipment the company designed that can remove and concentrate large amounts of algae, collecting many pounds of tiny plants, animals, bacteria–the entire community of creatures living and interacting during a complex event such as an algal bloom. The NCCOS scientists use powerful and sophisticated equipment to tease out toxins, metabolites, and minute cellular signals lost when researchers take typical samples by the jarful. It’s like basing a restaurant review on one toothpick’s worth of a taste. Bloom events teem with highly complex chemical and physical exchanges that go undiscovered when researchers study an insufficient amount.

For its part, Biosortia will analyze the new compounds for beneficial medicines, nutritional supplements, natural pesticides, and other commercial uses to benefit jobs, health, and the environment. Both parties stand to gain much from this agreement.

NOAA’s Technology Partnerships office highlighted this agreement on their website.

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