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NOAA Funds MSC Exploration of Ancient Marine Forest

A team of researchers from the MSC has received a grant from the NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research division to explore the remains of an ancient and now-submerged forest, in search of new compounds for medicine and biotechnology.

The project, entitled Bioprospecting for Industrial Enzymes and Drug Lead Compounds in an Ancient Submarine Forest, and led by Ocean Genome Legacy Director Dan Distel, will allow MSC scientists to explore a 60,000 year old forest that, due to sea level rise, is now sitting on the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Mobile, Alabama.

The exposed wood forms a reef-like oasis in the great Mississippi, Alabama Florida sand sheet, which has created a unique habitat that may be home to novel and rare marine organisms. Professors Brian Helmuth and Mark Patterson will lend their expertise in remote sensing and marine robotics as collaborators on the mission.

The researchers are planning their first expedition for December 2019, so stay tuned for further coverage of this exciting bioprospecting expedition.

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