Jumat, Oktober 17, 2008

Potential Impact of Marine Biotechnology on the Sustainable Development in Indonesia

Summarized by Agustinus R. Uria from:
Ariyanti S. Dewi, Kustiariyah Tarman, and Agustinus R. Uria, 2008. Marine Natural Product: Prospect and Its Potential Impact on the Sustainable Development in Indonesia. Proceeding of Indonesian Students` Scientific Meeting, Delft, the Netherlands, May 2008. (Please click here for the full text in PDF).

Indonesia as the world's largest archipelagic country with 17.508 islands and 81,000 km of coastline is worldwide recognized as being the richest in the world in term of diversity of marine organisms. These resources are massive supplies of food for humans and animals, salt, minerals and oil, construction materials (sand, rock, lime and wood). In particular, this extraordinary biodiversity offers big opportunities and challenges for the discovery of new genes, enzymes, secondary metabolites which might be very useful from both scientific and biomedical perspectives.

However, there is an increasing concern about the coastal and marine resources in Indonesia, because their long term over-exploitation has caused severe environmental degradation. Especially many parts of the coral reef ecosytems are currently under serious threat, mainly due to over-exploitative fishing methods (e.g. the use of toxic chemicals and dynamite), coral mining practices, mangrove removal, and sediment accumulation derived from forest soils degraded by fires. This coral reef degradation not only reduces significantly the opportunities of gaining economic benefits from the exploration of marine natural products, but also can lead to long-term economic hardship for many rural peoples who are mostly dependent on the reef fisheries for their survival and income needs.

Recently, the sustainable use of marine bidiversity through Marine Biotechnology (e.g drug discovery and development program) have attracted much attention, because many scientists believe that recent advances in Biotechnology not only promises economic benefits but also promotes the protection and conservation of marine biodiversity. Some biotechnological innovations has enabled to generate ecologically and environmentally sound approaches, which contribute greatly to the sustainable use of marine biodiversity. This emerging multidicipline is especially interesting to be developed in Indonesia as a tropical country with highly diverse marine resources. Integrating efforts on sustainable utilization of marine natural products, diversity conservation and economic development as well as strengthening relationship among government, public and stakeholders into one program could give social and economical benefits to the local society and Indonesia in general.

One of the recently advanced innovations in Biotechnology is Metagenomics, a powerful approach for gaining access to the genetic potential of uncultured microbial world which account more than 99% in diversity in most environments. Further developmnet of this new approach has enabled the rapid discovery of natural product-encoding biosynthetic pathways from uncultivable microbial consortium both living freely in marine environment and existing in associations with marine invertebrates. Subsequent transfer of them into easily cultured bacteria has allowed the sustainable production of marine drugs. Its integration with mutagenesis even permits creating novel pharmaceutical compounds with largely perdictable structures and truly unique pharmacological profiles.

Since the program of the conversion of marine biodiversity into a clinically-used drug is complicated, lenghty and expensive, a close collaboration among the academic and research institutions, the pharmaceutical companies, and biodiversity-controling governmental agencies representing the source country should be developed. With properly negotiated benefit-sharing agreements, the source country could gain short and long-term benefits from the use of its genetic resources, which may include biodiversity conservation, eco-tourism, scientific infrastructure, technology transfer and education, and monetary royalties. To give significant economic impacts, we suggest that this benefit sharing concept should be initially performed in a small-scale, in this respect the regions where the `owner` communities live. In this term, this could be used as a model at the national level, which could subsequently be applied in other parts of Indonesia with high marine biodiversity. If this concept is developed in a larger scale, we are convinced that this can contribute significantly to the national economical sustainability.

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