In recent years, the effects of climate change on proper functioning of the ocean system are evident. This program is proposed because: (1) biological resources of the ocean have been and will be the main targets for biotechnological applications, (2) there is a dire need in industry for researchers with a marine biotechnology background, and (3) multi-disciplinary collaboration is encouraged between principle investigators (PIs) of National Taiwan Ocean University and Academia Sinica. The Ministry of Education has approved the enrolment of PhD students in 2015. PIs from both institutions will be jointly responsible to supervise the students on projects related to aquatic biotechnology.
With the main objective of developing marine biotechnology-related industrial applications, this program offers professional and innovative courses on marine resource development and application so as to encourage students to transform the knowledge obtained from the courses into practices. Sustainability of marine bioresources is the ultimate goal.
(1) Fish Molecular Physiology
This research area is to investigate the effects of climate change and global warming on reproduction, development and growth of marine fish (salmon, tilapia, eel) and marine invertebrates (crustacea, bivalves) at molecular, cellular, tissue and organismal levels. Research areas include fish reproductive strategy, effects of endocrine hormones produced by the brain and reproductive organs on sex development of fish, pH homeostasis of aquatic organisms, gene expression and signal transduction of fish embryo by chemical changes in aquatic environment.
(2) Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
This research area is to investigate temporal and spatial change of marine organisms using field observation and molecular techniques. Research areas include relationships between marine organisms and environment with the emphases on distribution, abundance, community, diversity, ecosystem functioning and evolution (species divergence, phylogeny).
(3) Extreme Environment and Extremophiles
Kueishan Island, situated on the north eastern side of the Taiwan Island, is surrounded by hydrothermal vent systems which nurture unique organisms. This research area is to explore the organisms inhabiting this habitat, and to investigate their biochemistry and the bioactive substances produced by these organisms, including decoding the genome of the crab Xenograpsus testudinatus and development of degradative enzymes of the bacterium NTOU1.
(4) Prevention of Diseases of Marine Animals and Vaccine Development
Economic growth and frequent international travels have promoted disease outbreaks in aquaculture. This research area brings together expertise of immunology, virology, molecular biology, aquaculture, bioinformatics and mechanical engineering from National Taiwan Ocean University and Academia Sinica to develop strategies and vaccines for disease prevention based on gene manipulation and function. Research focus includes development of rapid detection kits, vaccines and antibiotic peptides of aquatic diseases and high-quality aquaculture breeds with high growth rate, physiological adaptability and disease resistance.
(5)Marine Bioresource and Material Development
This research area brings together expertise of isolation, purification, structure chemistry, bioinformatics, bioengineering, function assessment, toxicology and sustainability of marine bioactive substances to discover new drugs, health products and animal feeds for related industry. Research topics include effects of global warming on change of marine bioresources, new applications of marine bioresources, effective usage of marine bioresources, chemical engineering of new drugs, development of alternative energy, and isolation and analysis of bioactive compounds.