Blue biotechnology can be tapped for products such as new drugs, biofuels, food and supplements. It also promises to play a key role in the development of ecosystem services related to clean water. There is a yearly growth rate of 12% of patents associated to genes of marine organisms which amounted to 4,900 by 2010, indicating a high potential for an economic valorization of marine products. Numerous studies project major growth, huge demand and correspondingly large markets for marine biotechnology.
Marine organisms used for Blue Biotechnology can be both microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and microalgae, or macro-organisms, such as macroalgae and mussels.
They are directly used as biomass or as producers of valuable ingredients such as active biological compounds, pigments, antioxidants, vitamins, fatty acids, enzymes, polymers or other biomaterials. High value marine products and technologies can have a wide range of applications in health, food, feed, cosmetics, aquaculture, agriculture, industrial processes, environmental remediation, environmental monitoring and research tools.
A variety of techniques are used in the field. Among them are the fermentation using bioreactors, microbiological and chemical techniques, as well as cell-, gene-, protein- and other molecule-based techniques.
A common feature of Baltic Sea organisms is the fact that their diversity is rather unexplored with respect to potential for biotechnological applications. As a brackish water body, one that is more saline than freshwater but less than seawater, the Baltic Sea comprises a diverse combination of freshwater and marine groups of microorganisms, with indigenous populations that have adapted to these unique conditions. According to census estimates, the Baltic Sea hosts at least 6,065 species, including at least 1,700 phytoplankton, 442 phytobenthos, 1,199 zooplankton, 569 meiozoobenthos, 1,476 macroozoobenthos, 380 invertebrate parasites, about 200 fish, 3 seal and 83 bird species.