Use the future to build the present
Harnessing Ocean Biodiversity
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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy

Sub-Field:

3.5.1Harnessing Ocean Biodiversity

Marine biodiversity is an enormous and largely untapped trove of biological riches. This is particularly true with respect to drug discovery for the pharmaceutical industry; natural products from marine organisms enjoy remarkable success rates in drug development compared with those developed from terrestrial sources.8 In a world embracing biotech, the ocean has also become a prime prospecting ground for novel enzymes for industrial processes, biomaterials, chemical compounds and much more.9,10 One “poster child” of marine bioprospecting is green fluorescent protein — a source of jellyfish bioluminescence. Its discovery resulted in a Nobel Prize, and has found a wide range of biomedical applications and even been used to identify levels of environmental toxicity. Novel antibiotics are also being sought amid the ocean’s biodiversity, as are naturally occurring polymers, which can detoxify pollutants including heavy metals.
In terms of marine genetic information alone, our data banks are growing exponentially as we explore the “ocean genome”. The challenge is increasingly to decide the best way to integrate, share and utilise the data gathered from marine genetic resources (MGR).

Future Horizons:

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5-yearhorizon

Genetic resources continue to show their worth

Increasing use of open-source tools and open-access data maximises the inclusivity, transparency and value of MGR research. Platforms such as the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS) — the global open-access platform for science, conservation and sustainable development around marine biodiversity — offer a template for future progress.

10-yearhorizon

Ocean-derived commercial products flourish

Medical, industrial and other products derived from MGR become ubiquitous. Machine learning systems speed up MGR-related discoveries across multiple fields, including pharmaceuticals, synthetic biology and biotech more broadly.

25-yearhorizon

Deep-sea observatories gather ocean data

Developments in automation allow data gathering and sample processing to occur in situ, at autonomous deep-sea observatories, allowing scientific exploration of the ocean genome in regions in which physical sample return is not practical.

Harnessing Ocean Biodiversity - Anticipation Scores

How the experts see this field in terms of the expected time to maturity, transformational effect across science and industries, current state of awareness among stakeholders and its possible impact on people, society and the planet. See methodology for more information.

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