PHILADELPHIAThe National Institutes of Health has awarded $4 million to a group of Philippine and American scientists, including The Academy of Natural Sciences, to aid in the discovery of new molecules and biofuels technology from marine mollusks for development in the Philippines.
Research will be concentrated in the Philippine archipelago, whose waters are inhabited by an estimated 10,000 marine mollusk speciesabout a fifth of all the known speciesand are regarded by marine biologists as the world's epicenter of marine biodiversity. Mollusks are among the most diverse of marine animals and include shelled creatures like snails, clams and slugs.
"Our team wants to marry discovery of new products with deeper understanding of marine biodiversity and conservation of that diversity," said Dr. Gary Rosenberg, one of the study's leaders and curator of mollusks at The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
The wide-ranging Philippine Mollusk Symbiont International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups project aims to provide new information to catalog and preserve these diverse mollusk species while providing scientific opportunities for the Philippines. U.S. scientists will work closely with colleagues from the University of the Philippines to uncover interactions between mollusks and their bacterial partners. The project is expected to yield leads to potential central nervous system, cancer and antimicrobial drugs as well as enzymes for cellulosic biofuels production.
Part of the project involves the methodical collection, identification and cataloging of mollusk species from the Philippines, and making this information freely available on the Internet. This effort will be led by Rosenberg, an evolutionary biologist at the Academy, the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Americas. Rosenberg already has developed a biotic database documenting more than 25,000 species of Indo-Pacific marine mollusks. He oversees the Acad
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The Academy of Natural Sciences