Associate Professor Suhelen Egan and Professor Torsten Thomas, of the Centre for Marine Science and Innovation in the Faculty of Science, together with a team of international scientists have been awarded US$325,000 by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as part of the Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems Initiative.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, among other initiatives. The Foundation is investing $19 million over the next three years to support 42 teams of scientists to advance model systems in aquatic symbiosis. 

Dr Egan gratefully accepted the philanthropic grant last week,

"Thank you to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for funding this exciting initiative. Supporting the development of model systems for seaweed-bacterial symbioses will greatly contribute to opening the technological bottlenecks that have limited our understanding of these important biological interactions." - Dr Egan

The Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems Initiative aims to equip the scientific community with infrastructure such as new genetic tools, cultivation methods, and nanoscale microscopy to improve experimental capabilities in aquatic symbiosis research over the coming decade. 200 scientists from across the world will work collaboratively across this grant portfolio to develop and share their tools and methods with each other and with the wider research community. 

"What I really appreciate is the collaborative sprit of this program. Our team will share knowledge across three different seaweed systems and their corresponding bacterial symbionts to build something that is greater than the individual groups can do alone. In a time when the pandemic has changed the way we work, making many of us feel more isolated, such an approach is welcome and I am sure will prove to be very successful." - Dr Egan

Dr Egan’s project 'Developing Genetic Tools for Seaweed-bacterial Symbiosis Models' will focus on using cutting edge technologies to generate a toolbox for the genetic manipulation of seaweeds and their bacterial partners. To make this happen Dr Egan will lead an international team as part of this Grant, collaborating with researchers in France, Germany, Portugal and Belgium with expertise in microbiology, algal genetics and bioinformatics. The shared outcomes of this project are key for the establishment of model systems that will help us better understand how seaweed-bacteria interactions function at the molecular level. This knowledge will not only provide fundamental insight into the evolution of seaweed-bacterial interactions but will make an important contribution to the success of future seaweed conservation, restoration and cultivation efforts. 

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