top of page
  • Writer's pictureGSI

Unlocking the potential of marine dissolved organic matter

Marine dissolved organic matter (DOM) holds immense untapped potential as a biotechnological resource, according to a recent study by Teresa S. Catalá from the Global Society Institute, Spencer Shorte from Institut Pasteur, and Thorsten Dittmar from University Oldenburg. DOM, consisting of millions of compounds, has resided in the oceans for thousands of years, making it one of the most diverse molecular mixtures on Earth.

However, exploring its bioactivities has been challenging due to its chemical complexity. To address this, the study examines the application of untargeted metabolomics and high-throughput screening techniques, providing insights into previously undetectable DOM bioactivities without extensive chemical fractionation. The authors emphasize the need for specialized bioscreening platforms for marine DOM. The study highlights the historical use of natural products (NPs) in traditional medicine and their potential for drug discovery. It also notes the dominance of bacterial sources in providing useful medicines.

The authors discuss the shift in focus from macroorganisms to microorganisms as a source of marine NPs. Marine DOM, consisting of small organic acids, is highlighted as a promising yet underexplored aspect of blue biotechnology.

However, investigating its biotechnological potential requires overcoming technical challenges and implementing chemometric analytical fractionation. The study sheds light on the chemical complexity of marine DOM, emphasizing its role as a vast reservoir of reduced organic carbon. With more than 1 Eg of DOM present globally, it surpasses the carbon inventory of the total marine biomass. The majority of DOM compounds are alicyclic organic acids with amphiphilic properties. Despite some knowledge about their general structure, only a fraction of the compounds in DOM have been fully characterized. Overall, the study highlights the significance of marine DOM as a biotechnological resource and the need for further research and technological advancements to unlock its full potential.


bottom of page