The Essentials of Marine Biotechnology

Ana Rotter, Michéle Barbier, Francesco Bertoni, Atle M. Bones, M. Leonor Cancela, Jens Carlsson, Maria F. Carvalho, Marta Cegłowska, Jerónimo Chirivella-Martorell, Meltem Conk Dalay, Mercedes Cueto, Thanos Dailianis, Irem Deniz, Ana R. Díaz-Marrero, Dragana Drakulovic, Arita Dubnika, Christine Edwards, Hjörleifur Einarsson, Ayşegül Erdoǧan, Orhan Tufan EroldoǧanDavid Ezra, Stefano Fazi, Richard J. FitzGerald, Laura M. Gargan, Susana P. Gaudêncio, Marija Gligora Udovič, Nadica Ivošević DeNardis, Rósa Jónsdóttir, Marija Kataržytė, Katja Klun, Jonne Kotta, Leila Ktari, Zrinka Ljubešić, Lada Lukić Bilela, Manolis Mandalakis, Alexia Massa-Gallucci, Inga Matijošytė, Hanna Mazur-Marzec, Mohamed Mehiri, Søren Laurentius Nielsen, Lucie Novoveská, Donata Overlingė, Giuseppe Perale, Praveen Ramasamy, Céline Rebours, Thorsten Reinsch, Fernando Reyes, Baruch Rinkevich, Johan Robbens, Eric Röttinger, Vita Rudovica, Jerica Sabotič, Ivo Safarik, Siret Talve, Deniz Tasdemir, Xenia Theodotou Schneider, Olivier P. Thomas, Anna Toruńska-Sitarz, Giovanna Cristina Varese, Marlen I. Vasquez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Coastal countries have traditionally relied on the existing marine resources (e.g., fishing, food, transport, recreation, and tourism) as well as tried to support new economic endeavors (ocean energy, desalination for water supply, and seabed mining). Modern societies and lifestyle resulted in an increased demand for dietary diversity, better health and well-being, new biomedicines, natural cosmeceuticals, environmental conservation, and sustainable energy sources. These societal needs stimulated the interest of researchers on the diverse and underexplored marine environments as promising and sustainable sources of biomolecules and biomass, and they are addressed by the emerging field of marine (blue) biotechnology. Blue biotechnology provides opportunities for a wide range of initiatives of commercial interest for the pharmaceutical, biomedical, cosmetic, nutraceutical, food, feed, agricultural, and related industries. This article synthesizes the essence, opportunities, responsibilities, and challenges encountered in marine biotechnology and outlines the attainment and valorization of directly derived or bio-inspired products from marine organisms. First, the concept of bioeconomy is introduced. Then, the diversity of marine bioresources including an overview of the most prominent marine organisms and their potential for biotechnological uses are described. This is followed by introducing methodologies for exploration of these resources and the main use case scenarios in energy, food and feed, agronomy, bioremediation and climate change, cosmeceuticals, bio-inspired materials, healthcare, and well-being sectors. The key aspects in the fields of legislation and funding are provided, with the emphasis on the importance of communication and stakeholder engagement at all levels of biotechnology development. Finally, vital overarching concepts, such as the quadruple helix and Responsible Research and Innovation principle are highlighted as important to follow within the marine biotechnology field. The authors of this review are collaborating under the European Commission-funded Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action Ocean4Biotech – European transdisciplinary networking platform for marine biotechnology and focus the study on the European state of affairs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number629629
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
StatePublished - 16 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Rotter, Barbier, Bertoni, Bones, Cancela, Carlsson, Carvalho, Cegłowska, Chirivella-Martorell, Conk Dalay, Cueto, Dailianis, Deniz, Díaz-Marrero, Drakulovic, Dubnika, Edwards, Einarsson, Erdoǧan, Eroldoǧan, Ezra, Fazi, FitzGerald, Gargan, Gaudêncio, Gligora Udovič, Ivošević DeNardis, Jónsdóttir, Kataržytė, Klun, Kotta, Ktari, Ljubešić, Lukić Bilela, Mandalakis, Massa-Gallucci, Matijošytė, Mazur-Marzec, Mehiri, Nielsen, Novoveská, Overlingė, Perale, Ramasamy, Rebours, Reinsch, Reyes, Rinkevich, Robbens, Röttinger, Rudovica, Sabotič, Safarik, Talve, Tasdemir, Theodotou Schneider, Thomas, Toruńska-Sitarz, Varese and Vasquez.


  • bioprospecting
  • blue growth
  • ethics
  • marine biodiversity
  • marine bioeconomy
  • marine natural products
  • responsible research and innovation (RRI)
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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