The Philippine Mollusk Symbiont ICBG (PMS ICBG) project links a biodiversity survey of marine mollusks in one of the world's hotspots of diversity, with enzyme and drug discovery aimed at bacterial symbionts of mollusks. Mollusks constitute the most diverse marine eukaryotic group, occupying virtually every possible ecological niche. The diversity of microbes associated with mollusks is equally vast.
Within the mollusks, three particular groups exhibit what we believe to be the highest biotechnological and scientific potential: the bivalve family Teredinidae (genus Teredo) and the gastropod superfamilies Conoidea (genus Conus) and Muricoidea (genus Murex). The project directly addresses the goals of the ICBG program and will yield drug leads in central nervous system, cancer and antimicrobial areas, as well as strains and enzymes for cellulosic biofuels production. The project will characterize symbiotic diversity and pharmaceutical and biofuels potential of mollusk-associated bacteria in a comparative framework for the first time.
The plan focuses on training, conservation, and the development of drug discovery and biofuels programs within the Philippines. The Republic of the Philippines represents a unique nexus of exceptional biodiversity, dense human population with pressing societal and energy needs, consequent urgent conservation goals, and government and private sector commitment to education and technology to harness national human and natural resources for a sustainable future
The project is led by Margo Haygood, marine microbiologist, Oregon Heath & Science University, in association with Gisela Concepcion, marine natural products chemist, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Baldomero Olivera, biochemist, and Eric Schmidt, natural products chemist and biochemist, both of University of Utah, Gary Rosenberg, evolutionary biologist, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and Daniel Distel, marine microbiologist, Ocean Genome Legacy.