1. Development of tools for offshore multipurpose platforms (Coordinator: Nikos Papandroulakis)
The development of tools on a pilot scale, which will be utilized during the operational phase of the platform and more specifically:
Study of the energy autonomy of a fish cage unit and the development of a smart management network.
Development of methodologies to wirelessly transfer data from remote areas. These technologies will be used for the automated estimation of fish growth in cages by utilizing optical systems.
Energy management in remote systems.
Development of methods - tools for reliable data transfer.
Development of methodologies for automated management.
1.1 Energy management in remote systems
Simulation of the energy requirements of an aquaculture plant for different operating scenarios,
Proposals to improve the operation of the autonomous energy system
1.2 Development of methods - tools for reliable data transfer
Effective data/video transmission from remote areas
Prerequisite, the creation of a reliable system adapted to the marine environment
1.3 Methodology for fish size estimation with optical systems
Tool for automated aquaculture husbandry
Assessment of fish growth in fish cages
2. Interdisciplinary research activities in the underwater biotechnological park of Crete (Coordinator: Kostas Dounas)
Experimental culture of invertebrates of biotechnological interest
The development of an artificial "underwater cave"
The study of the ecological succession of benthic organisms in artificial substrates
Tasks - Deliverables
2.1 Collection - installation of new species of marine invertebrates of biotechnological interest
2.2 Monitoring of vital parameters
2.3 Response assessment to environmental conditions
3. Integrated approach to the structure and function of the microbial web under anthropogenic stressors (Coordinator: Vivi Pitta)
In October 2019, a mesocosm experiment took place at the CretaCosmos mesocosm facility of the Hellenic Center for Marine Research in Crete, Greece. The experiment involved members of the CMBR infrastructure (from the IMBBC and IO Institutes of HCMR and from the Biology Department of the University of Crete), as well as foreign scientists who participated through the EU H2020 Infrastructure Network AQUACOSM.
But what is a mesocosm and what are they used for?
They are an experimental tool, i.e. devices that allow experimentation in large volumes, in other words they make it possible to study aspects of the marine environment at the ecosystem level.
The marine environment is under intense anthropogenic pressures, including the addition of nutrients, organic and/or inorganic, which can lead, among other things, to a decrease in higher predator populations, thus affecting entire food webs and burdening marine ecosystems. Such a problem involving many variables and organisms from many food levels can only be studied in large experimental structures, such as the mesocosms.
In this experiment (CΟmpex: Competition and Coexistence Patterns in Microbial Plankton) the relationships of competition and coexistence created between plankton organisms, with and without the addition of nutrients, were investigated. Nine mesocosms (of 3 cubic meters each) were filled with seawater transported from the Cretan Sea to the facilities of HCMR (Figure 1). The experiment included 3 experimental conditions, in triplicate: 1) addition of nutrient, inorganic and organic, 2) additional removal of the upper predator/meso-zooplankton, and 3) control-mesocosms, without any intervention.
Who took part and what was studied during the 15-day experiment?
The experiment involved 27 scientists from 6 countries, who measured, on a daily basis, the concentration of all nutrients, organic and inorganic, dissolved and particulate, the absorption of inorganic phosphorus, as well as a variety of biological variables, such as the abundance, biomass and diversity of all plankton groups, from bacteria to copepods, but also the primary and secondary productivities. Numerous microbial ecology techniques have been used from flow cytometry, fluorescence and inverted microscopy to molecular techniques and isotopes.
And the results of this research?
They were many and interesting. The presence and absence of the higher predator changed the food web and the relationships between the populations. There was competition for nutrients among mainly osmotrophic plankton populations.
Overall, important conclusions have been drawn, which, on the one hand, answer questions about the marine microbial web of the Eastern Mediterranean but, on the other hand, create new hypotheses and questions that need to be further explored. Numerous publications are expected to be produced, several of which are currently being finalized. There was also an opportunity for cooperation between CMBR infrastructure actors, which will lead to future joint actions.
4. Pilot national platform for the discovery of bioactive metabolites of marine origin (Coordinator: Georgios Kotoulas)
The strengthening of the interaction and the development of close cooperation between the entities dealing with sub-sectors of marine biotechnology in Greece
The use / control of the pilot platform under real conditions, the evaluation of its effectiveness in the discovery of bioactive metabolites of marine origin, as well as the identification of parameters that need improvement
The production of a platform operating protocol compared to the those applied to cultivable organisms
The expansion of our knowledge about the effect of physicochemical stress on the production of new metabolites by marine microorganisms
Investigating the dynamics in the production of metabolites by complex symbiotic systems such as sponges
The analysis of complex data (systems biology) and the emergence of the challenges they pose, which provides the possibility of interaction with the infrastructure ELIXIR-Gr (Marine use case).
Cultivation / extraction of marine organisms for bio-search
Genome characterization and mapping of the complete transcriptional profile of marine organisms
4.1 Small-scale organic extracts of bacteria, fungi and microalgae strains of marine origin
4.2 Large-scale organic extracts of selected strains of bacteria, fungi and microalgae of marine origin
4.3 Genomic and taxonomic characterization of the cultured organisms
4.4 Differentiation of the transcriptional profile of the cultivated organisms under stress conditions
4.5 Combined analysis of the genomic, transcriptional, proteomic and metabolomic data
5. Improvement of the quality & welfare of fish (Coordinator: Michalis Pavlidis)
The study of the biological mechanisms that are involved in the robustness, quality, behavior and welfare of fish.
Investigating the susceptibility of new species of fish, that are candidates for intensive aquaculture, to existing and evolving pathogens, at different temperature conditions.
Impact of the environment on the osteogenesis of fish
Stress & well-being
Sound production from three species of fish, characteristics of sound scattering by them and abilities of fish to acclimatize to sounds
Susceptibility of new species, candidates for intensive aquaculture, and existing fish to existing and evolving pathogenic microorganisms, at different temperature conditions
5.1 Impact Of The Environment On The Osteogenesis Of Fish
Water temperature significantly affects the form and function of developing fish. In finfish aquaculture, research interest targets on the thermally-induced plasticity of quality characteristics and on the development of skeletal abnormalities. In this task, a model species (zebrafish, Danio rerio) was used to examine whether a short temperature exposure during the embryonic stage affects the skeletal development (ossification rate, vertebrae counts) during the following larval period. The acquired fluorescence stereoscope allowed the use of fluorescent dyes for the in vivo staining and study of bone ossification process. Our results demonstrated that early temperature alters zebrafish skeletogenesis, with a significant decrease of ossification rate at 32 oC. The applied methodology might be used in the future for the early quality control of aquaculture fish, in real time, without the need of sample histological processing. The acquired fluorescence stereoscope has already been incorporated in the research and educational activities of the laboratory of Marine Biology (Biology Department, University of Crete, Prof. G. Koumoundouros). Also, in the services of fish-quality control and improvement which are offered by the University of Crete to the aquaculture sector.
5.2 Stress & well-being
5.3 Sound production from three species of fish
5.4 Susceptibility of existing fish species to existing pathogenic microorganisms at normal and higher temperatures