Thursday, April 21, 2011

Acronym in biodiversity and intellectual property context: MGR for marine genetic resource

In the context of global genetic resource management, the acronym MGR stands for marine genetic resource [1]. MGRs are part of the most biodiverse habitat on Earth and include species of macro- and micro-organisms, many of which are living in complex symbiotic relationships [2]. Although the understanding of MGRs and their interrelationships is incomplete, knowledge of selected marine organisms and parts thereof is growing and available on various scales, often on molecular level. Marine molecules, for example thermostable enzymes from deep-sea, hydrothermal vent organisms, are of increasing interest in drug discovery and biotechnology. With respect to their potential market value, patent claims associated with MGRs are on the rise.

A raw natural material cannot be claimed per se, but isolated and purified extractions therefrom can. According to a recent article, ten countries account for 90% of patent claims associated with marine genes [1]. The authors of that article identify a broadening gap in oceanographic and biotechnological capacities among countries, discuss legal gaps concerning international waters and also weigh possibilities for a future governance framework for MGRs.

For those of us, who just want to learn what is there, the Census of Marine Life is a resourceful harbor, containing, among many other discovery gadgets, a Census Resources and Media Resources menu.

Keywords: oceanography, marine biology, bioprospecting, patentability, international consensus

References and resources
[1] S. Arnaud-Haond, J. M. Arrieta and C. M. Duarte: Marine Biodiversity and Gene Patents. Science March 25, 2011, 331 (6024), pp. 1521-1522. 
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200783. 
[2] L. Evens-Illidge: Towards a practical knowledgebase for marine genetic resources [].

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