Research Area 4: Bioprospecting of Marine Organisms

Categories: Current Research


Marine organisms are considered a rich source of new bioactive molecules. While numerous promising candidates have been isolated from marine organisms, large areas of the world's oceans remain unexplored. In particular, the Red Sea is a largely untapped, uncharted source of bioactives. In this research area, we are conducting cytological profiling of pre-fractionated extracts from marine organisms including algae, sponges, bacteria and deep-sea invertebrates of the Red Sea by imaging-based High Content Screening (HCS) to a full spectrum of cellular markers. Our data show that HCS is a suitable approach for the characterization of biological extracts of unknown chemical composition and allows quantitative measurements at the single-cell level, which will facilitate rapid identification of promising sources for bioactive molecules.

sponge library

Library of sponge extracts. Photography by Aubrie O'Rourke.

Prof. Ruth Brack-Werner, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Health, Germany
Prof. Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Health, Germany
Prof. Bill Gerwick, University of California at San Diego, USA
Prof. James Inglese​, National Human Genome Research Institute, USA

Currently involved from our lab
Prof. Christian R. Voolstra
Dr. Stephan Kremb
Aubrie O'Rourke (Ph.D. student)

Aqueous Extracts of the Marine Brown Alga Lobophora variegata Inhibit HIV-1 Infection at the Level of Virus Entry into Cells.
S. Kremb, M. Helfer, B. Kraus,H. Wolff,C. Wild, M. Schneider,C.R. Voolstra, R. Brack-Werner
PLoS ONE, Volume 9, Issue 8, e103895, (2014)​