BlueGenics Workshop, 2014, Iceland

The BlueGenics Workshop II was organized by MATIS and held in Reykjavik, Iceland, from September 4 - 5, 2014.  

Workshop title:       “New Targets in Marine Bioprospecting and Biotechnology”


Workshop participants. 



Matís ohf.


Vínlandsleið 12



113 Reykjavik






Local organizer:

Viggó Þór Marteinsson (MATIS)

René Groben (MATIS)

Ragnar Jóhannsson (MATIS)




BlueGenics project coordination:



Werner E. G. Müller (UMC-Mainz)

Institute for Physiological Chemistry

University Medical Center of the

Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz

Tel.: +49 6131-39-25910 / 25791 / 25789


Objective for the workshop:

There is an increasing interest of pharmaceutical industry in the natural environment as a source for novel lead compounds. Marine sponges are the richest source for bioactive secondary metabolites among all marine metazoan phyla. However, only a few of these compounds have been tested in clinical trials mainly because of the limited availability of starting material for extrac­tion. It is the aim of this workshop to show suitable routes to utilize the unique ability of the genome of marine invertebrates to synthesize a large variety of bioactive compounds for biomedicine and other applications. The invertebrate cell culture techniques and biochemical/bio-process engineering techniques for marine organisms demonstrated in this workshop will contribute to the preservation of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources.


The objective of this workshop was to introduce the audience, consisting both of scientists (from academic research institutions and industry) and business man, as well as the project participants, in the state-of-the-art of marine bioprospecting and marine biotechnology. In addition,

this workshop also aimed to disseminate the results of the BlueGenics integrating project. This workshop should also communicate the technical skills and the know-how available in the different partner laboratories to the project partners coming from different disciplines.


The presentation given in this workshop consisted of a general introduction into the respective topic as well as of a section explaining the contributions of the respective group to the specific topic and the results and achievements of this group within the BlueGenics project.

Confidential information about the progress of work, financial aspects etc were discussed in a subsequent separate meeting of the project partners under exclusion of the public after the end of public part of the workshop.  


Experts and speakers:

-              Werner E. G. Müller (UMC-Mainz) – Expert in marine molecular biology

-              Heinz C. Schröder (NANOTEC) – Expert in sponge-derived recombinant proteins


-              Bruno Sommer Ferreira (BIOTREND)

– Expert in bioprocess development


-              Ragnar Jóhannsson (MATIS) – Expert in environmental genomics

-              Viggo Thor Marteinsson (MATIS) – Expert in farming of marine invertebrates

-              René Groben (MATIS) – Expert in metagenomics

-              Arnthor Ævarsson (PROKAZYME) – Expert in thermostabile enzymes

-              Vesna Eraković Haber (GALAPAGOS) – Expert in drug development

-              Alfonso Mangoni (UNINA) – Expert in isolation and structural elucidation of marine natural products

-              Valeria Costantino (UNINA) – Expert in anti-inflammatory compounds

-              Marialuisa Menna (UNINA) – Expert in neuroprotective compounds

-              Rebecca Goss (USTAN) – Expert in chemogenetics and mutasynthesis

-              Sabine Grüschow (USTAN) – Expert in chemogenetics and mutasynthesis

-              Maximilian Helf (ETH Zurich) – Expert in isolation of trans-AT PKSs

-              Marie-Lise Bourguet-Kondracki (MNHN) – Expert in complex bacteria-sponge ecosystem

-              Lars Bohlin (UU) – Expert in antimicrobial peptides

-              Anders Backlund (UU) – Expert in bioinformatics / ChemGPS-NP


-              Cecilia Alsmark (UU)

– Expert in eukaryotic parasites


-              Xiaohong Wang (NRCGA-CAGS) – Expert in physico-chemical characterization of biological materials



The invited guests included mainly persons from Reykjavik University and various companies in the area of Reykjavik. The Workshop was attended by a total of 30 persons, including the project partners.


Impact of the workshop:

This Workshop had a strong impact both scientifically and with regard to the visibility of EU-funded research as evidenced by the fact that the Coordinator (W.E.G. Müller; UMC-Mainz) and some project partners, including Xiaohong Wang (NRCGA-CAGS), Heinz C. Schröder (NANOTEC) and Ragnar Jóhannsson (MATIS) had been subsequently invited by the president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. They had the opportunity to visit him in Bessastaðir, the Presidential Residence (private invitation), and to have with him a 2-hours discussion about the current economic situation in Iceland, especially the role of small and medium enterprises in innovation and their contribution to the economic development. In addition, the role of the Community programmes and its effectiveness in bringing innovative products from basic research in the market has been discussed.


Discussion of the coordinator, W.E.G. Müller, with the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.



 Visit to the president of Iceland. From left to right: Xiaohong Wang (NRCGA-CAGS), Werner E.G. Müller (UMC-Mainz), Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (President of Iceland), Ragnar Jóhannsson (MATIS) and Heinz C. Schröder (NANOTEC).


Moreover, this Workshop allowed the project partners to learn to know the methods and techniques of the other partners. It also allowed the partners to get new contacts with other scientists and companies located in Iceland. New, additional projects and future cooperations could be discussed.

The guests of this workshop were highly impressed about the results of the project. There was an intensive discussion after each presentation. This workshop allowed the BlueGenics project partners to widen their scientific horizon by getting acquainted with the various techniques used in this multidisciplinary project but also to learn from the questions and comments of the guests who turned out to be highly interested in these topics.



Workshop presentations:

The programme is given below.




Workshop presentations



Visit of the laboratories of MATIS

After the Workshop, the facilities of this partner have been shown to the other partners, including the company’s high-throughput sequencing facility with both a Biosystems Capillary DNA Analyzer 3730 and FLX 454 sequencer for genome and metagenomic sequencing. Additional advanced equipment demonstrated to the visitors comprised a BD FACSAria II cell sorter as well as robotic liquid dispensers.


Visit of the MATIS laboratories.