Smart science to improve lives™

Underwater Petri Dish Research Funding Awarded

Croda International Plc, who, through their smart science, create, make and sell speciality chemicals that improve lives in societies and industries everywhere, are celebrating that Nautilus Biosciences Research Scholar, Russell Kerr, has received funding for his research into the use of an underwater petri dish from the Canadian government.

Professor Russell Kerr, Founder of Nautilus said: “This funding will enable my academic lab to explore the untapped resource of around the 99% of marine bacteria and fungi that currently cannot be cultured in the laboratory for analysis. This marine biotechnology has the potential to open a whole new world of applications and functional ingredients.”

Kerr is founder of Nautilus Biosciences, which became Croda’s Centre of Innovation for Marine Biotechnology in 2018, as well as a Professor at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). His research program at the UPEI has recently received funding from the Canadian government and is set to address one of the most pressing challenges in microbiology, a phenomenon known as the Great Plate Count Anomaly. This states that only 1% of bacteria from environmental samples such as soil and marine, can be cultured. While many people may consider bacteria to be harmful, they are, in fact, the source of some life-saving medicines, with approximately 75% of antibiotics coming from bacteria.
Using a new approach to access the “unculturable 99%”

Kerr’s new research grant is focused on the development of “mini underwater petri dishes” that ease the transition of bacteria from their natural environment to the laboratory, allowing access to some of the “unculturable” 99%. This novel, underwater, petri dish will allow a ‘transition domestication period,’ which will help improve viability of bacteria and fungi back in the laboratories to enable bacteria that was previously “unculturable” to be cultured.

Currently, Nautilus focuses on using marine microbial biodiversity to discover novel actives and materials, this innovative, sustainable, science is used in applications across all Croda’s market sectors. Through an existing agreement between Croda and the UPEI, Nautilus will have access to new strains of bacteria which it will screen for actives in a diverse range of industries, helping them to continue to use Smart Science to Improve Lives™.