University of South Florida

USF College of Marine Science


OCG in the Lab: Ocean Medical Research

Growing bacteria in petri dishes can make interesting patterns.

Growing bacteria in petri dishes can make interesting patterns.

Blog post by Brittany Leigh & Makenna Martin with photos provided by Brittany Leigh and OCG Staff.

The Ocean Medical Research lab at OCG focused on teaching the campers the way scientists can use ocean research for applications in human health. All animals on the planet (including humans!) have a constant battle between microbes happening on and inside us.

These microbes, including viruses, bacteria and fungi, all interact with each other to make a healthy animal. The marine environment, in particular, is home to millions of microbes in every drop of seawater, and how animals hold on to all of the healthy microbes and keep out all of the bad ones is really very interesting and has an abundance of implications for medical research. Marine animals are also huge untapped reservoirs for new medicines like antibiotics and viral therapies.

During camp, the girls screened some interactions within bacteria and fungi to look for new antibiotic activities. Also, they explored how viruses can also shape bacterial communities through killing bacteria. All of these microbes are isolated from the gut of a sea squirt, and at the end of the experiment scientists can put them all back together in the animals and see what happens in the natural environment!

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Mission Statement

Our blue planet faces a suite of challenges and opportunities for understanding and innovation. Our mission is to advance understanding of the interconnectivity of ocean systems and human-ocean interactions using a cross-disciplinary approach, to empower the next workforce of the blue economy with a world-class education experience, and to share our passion for a healthy environment and science-informed decision-making with community audiences near and far.