List of fellowships


ESR1a – Co-cultivation of sponge cells and microorganisms (Johanna Gutleben)

Host: Wageningen University (NL)

Supervisors: Dr. Detmer Sipkema, Prof. Hauke Smidt, Prof. René Wijffels

Resesarch Objectives:
Identifying interactions between sponge cells and their symbionts & isolation of currently uncultivable microorganisms.
ESR1a will work on separation of sponge cells and microorganisms by e.g. flow cytometric cell sorting, set-up co-cultures between sponge cells + microbes and microbes + microbes in diffusion chambers for the isolation of novel microorganisms.


ER1a - Design of a technology platform for sponge-derived bioactive compounds (Georg Steinert)

Host: Wageningen University (NL)
Supervisors: Dr. Detmer Sipkema, Prof. Hauke Smidt
Resesarch Objectives:
Establishment of a technology platform for the use of sponge-derived bioactive compounds.

ER1a will integrate the various methodologies for the biotechnological production of sponge-derived bioactive compounds that are investigated within BluePharmTrain.



ESR1b – Sponge cell culture (Stephanie Munroe)

Host: Wageningen University (NL)
Supervisors: Prof. René Wijffels, Prof. Shirley Pomponi, Dr. Dirk Martens, Dr. Detmer Sipkema
Resesarch Objectives:
Establishment of continuous sponge-cell lines.
ESR1b will work on the establishment of primary and continuous sponge cell lines through sponge cell transfection and formation of sponge cell hybridomas.


ESR2 – Mariculture of cold-water sponges (Stephen Knobloch)

Host: Matis (IS)
Supervisor: Dr. Ragnar Johansson
Resesarch Objectives:
Establishment and comparison of sponge maricultures under natural and near-natural conditions of two sponge species & development of more sustainable fish farms.
ESR2 will develop maricultures of two cold-water sponges and assess its robustness and suitability to reduce organic pollution from (shell)fish farms.

ER3 - Sponge growth in the natural environment (Carla Huete-Stauffer)

Host: CEAB-CSIC (E)
Supervisor: Prof. Maria Uriz
Resesarch Objectives:

Estimating differential growth in Mediterranean BluePharmTrain key sponges with and without potential competitors (neighbouring sponges and other marine invertebrates.

ER3 will assess the impact of competitors on the growth of ponges throug in situ growth measurements and the application of (meta)transcriptomics.


ESR4a – Use of peptide-modifying enzymes from symbionts to generate new natural products (Eike Peters)

Host: ETH-Zürich (CH)
Supervisor: Prof. Jörn Piel
Resesarch Objectives:
Use of modifying enzymes from ribosomal peptide pathways in sponge symbionts to generate structural diversity.
ESR4a will identify peptide-modifying enzymes from sponge-symbiont metagenomes. These enzymes will be heterologously expressed for the generation of a range of peptide precursor variants.


ESR4b – Heterologous expression of biosynthetic gene clusters from sponge-specific bacteria (Agneya Bhushan)

Host: ETH-Zürich (CH)
Supervisor: Prof. Jörn Piel
Resesarch Objectives:

Heterologous expression of gene clusters related to the production of polyketide and peptides from sponge-specific bacteria.

ESR4b will work in close cooperation with ESR4a and focus on the heterologous expression of large PKS and NRPS gene clusters from sponge symbionts.


ESR5 – Novel Sponge Enzymes (Nele Aas)

Host: Technical University Tallinn (EST)
Supervisor: Dr. Merike Kelve
Resesarch Objectives:
Identification and characterisation of nucleoside phosphorylase/hydrolase enzymes in sponges

ESR5 will search for novel nucleoside phosphorylases and -hydrolases in BluePharmTrain sponges and beyond.


ESR6a – Meta-“omics” analysis of sponges (Alexandra Campbell)

Host: Cardiff University (UK)
Supervisor: Dr. Julian Marchesi

Resesarch Objectives:

Metagenomic and -transcriptomic profiling of BluePharmTrain sponge-microbe holobionts obtained from the natural environment, mariculture and co-cultivation and comparison to genomes & transcriptomes of selected isolates to identify primary and secondary metabolic interactive correlations between host and symbionts.


ER6b – Legal regulation and responsible innovation of marine biotechnology (Wanlin Wang)

Host: Cardiff University (UK)

Supervisors: Dr. Elen Stokes, Prof. Robert Lee

Resesarch Objectives:
ER6b will analyse applicable legal frameworks and measures of responsible innovation in the marine environment. This will amongst others include maping out legal protection of the marine environment, identify regulatory triggers and potential gaps, analyse opportunities for and challenges to anticipatory governance and responsible innovation, and identify intellectual property issues arising from this area of research.


ESR7 – Isolation and structure elucidation of sponge-derived bioactives (Margarida Costa)

Host: University of Iceland (IS)

Supervisor: Dr. Margret Thorsteinsdottir
Resesarch Objectives:

ESR 7 will isolate, quantify and structurally characterise sponge-derived bioactive compounds from natural and maricultured sources. Tasks include quantification of bioactive compounds and their secondary metabolites from BluePharmTrain sponges and isolated symbionts, perform unbiased screening for unknown metabolites, screen for bioactivity of selected extracts and secondary metabolites from sponges and isolated symbionts, and link bioactivity to genomics and phylogenetic identity.


ESR8 – The microbial network in sponges (Maryam Chaib De Mares)

Host: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (NL)

Supervisor: Prof. Dick van Elsas

Resesarch Objectives:
Aim of this project is to unravel microbial interactions within sponges. A combination of taxonomic information of bacteria, archaea, fungi and unicellular eukaryotes residing in sponges and functional information (metagenome, metatranscriptome and metaproteome) will be used to unravel the networks between microorganisms and host and microorganisms among each other.


ESR9 – Cultivate the ‘uncultivable’ sponge-associated bacteria (Deepak Naik)

Host: DSMZ (D)
Supervisor: Prof. Jörg Overmann
Resesarch Objectives:
ESR9 will apply novel techniques for targeted isolation of sponge-associated prokaryotes and their physiological and genomic characterisation. These will be based on adaptation of high-throughput cultivation techniques for bacteria and cultivation trials, production of bacterial enrichments from natural material and co-cultures by single cell techniques and diverse growth tests, molecular screening of enrichments and isolation of novel bacterial phylo-/genotypes, physiological characterisation of isolates, genome sequencing of selected trains, and in situ physiology of isolated bacteria and comparison with pure culture results.


ESR10 – cultivation of deep-sea sponge-associated fungi&bacteria (Erik Borchert)

Host: UCC (IRL)

Supervisors: Prof. Alan Dobson and Prof. Fergal O’Gara

Resesarch Objectives:

The project deals with the cultivation of deep-sea sponge-associated fungi&bacteria for identification of novel PKS and NRPS genes. PKS and NRPS genes will be identified and cloned from the sponge metagenome and linked back to specific cultured species or phyla and anti-infective activities will be performed against clinically relevant bacteria and fungi.


ER11 – Structural elucidation of new bioactive products from sponges (Eydís Einarsdottir)

Host: PharmaMar (E)

Supervisors: Dr. Simon Munt and Dr. Marta Perez-Alvarez
Resesarch Objectives:
The project at PM will deal with the isolation and structural elucidation of new bioactive natural products from sponges, sponge cell cultures and bacteria. Important aspects are (1) scale-up of extraction of sponges, (2) dereplication by use of spectroscopic methods, (3) bio-assay guided purification of extracts, and (4) structural elucidation of new bioactive compounds by NMR spectroscopy.