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Environment and Sustainable Development
14; Page: 47 - 58

Challenges and Prospects in Exploring Marine Microbial Diversity

K. B. Akondi, V. V. Lakshmi

Central University of Gujarat School of Envt & Sustainable Devlpmnt.


The marine realm is one of the major habitats of the biosphere and covers around 70 % of the Earth’s surface. Eighty to ninety percent of all life forms of the Earth are present only in the oceans. The microbial diversity is enormous in marine habitat. The knowledge of the oceanic biodiversity, as a whole, is limited, in spite of the advances in sampling techniques and use of in situ methods to study natural communities. Apart from natural variations in biodiversity, pollution of coastal waters and bio-invasions through human activity also alter the biodiversity drastically. Industrial effluents, discharges, land reclamation, and other anthropogenic effects are found to cause damage or create imbalance in coastal diversity and modify it significantly. This phenomenon is observed all around the world. Thus, better understanding of the relations between diversity at different topological levels as well as between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is essential. This could have important implications in conservation management. Further it is being increasingly realized that the marine environment is an inexhaustible resource of biomolecules of commercial importance including antibiotics and enzymes. Marine diversity is also considered important to find solution for the expensive problem of biofouling, which is a serious impediment for maritime industries such as shipping, thermal and nuclear power plant maintenance. The potential of marine isolates against inhibition of primary foulers is opening a realm for the development of nontoxic, environmentally friendly natural product antifouling agents (NPAs).

Keywords: Marine biodiversity; Culture independent methods; Bioactive molecules; Antifouling; Natural product antifouling agents (NPA)

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