Marine Biotechnology in Brasil

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Brazil is an important country for marine biotechnology research and development. A recent report identified over 500 groups potentially active across the areas comprising marine biotechnology interest, directly active in marine biotechnology or supporting it through biology, ecology, molecular biology etc.

Brazil is recognised as an International Cooperation Partner Country, so that Brazilian institutions can be involved in appropriate EU-funded projects; there are also specific marine sciences bilateral collaboration agreements with Germany and France.

National strategy for biotechnology

The most recent national biotechnology development strategy was formulated in 2007.

National strategy for marine biotechnology

There is no marine biotechnology strategy as such, but the strategic developments in this sector are accomplished through the BIOMAR programme. At Federal level, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCT) established BIOMAR (Programa de Levantamento e Avaliaçao do Potencial Biotecnológico da Biodiversidade Marinha) in 2005 [1]. The BIOMAR Executive Committee includes representatives of 6 Ministries, 4 organisations and one commercial organization (Petrobras - Empresa Petróleo Brasileiro S/A).


The BIOMAR Executive Committee established a proposal for a national work activity and in 2007 began the process of mapping research capacity and achievements in marine biotechnology in Brazil. Funding calls within the BIOMAR strategic programme are managed by CNPq (the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) with additional support from MCT, resulting in a first call for biodiesel projects in 2008 and another for more general marine biotechnology research in 2009, together over 30 projects. Further calls have followed. CIRM (Comissão Interministerial para os Recursos do Mar [2] is also involved in supporting aspects of marine biotechnology, including the report on its status in Brazil, and works through SEPED (the Secretariat for Research and Development Policies and Programmes), for research in the Antarctic [3].

Individual states also have R&D funding and Innovation funding programmes.

Centres of marine biotechnology research

  • UFRJ (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro – 35 groups) [4]
  • UFC (Universidade Federal do Ceará – 23 groups) [5]
  • USP (Universidade de São Paulo – 20 groups) [6]
  • UFSC (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina – 20 groups) [7]
  • UEC (Universidade Estaduale de Campinas – 19 groups) [8] and a partner in the EU-funded project BAMMBO
  • UFPE (Universidade Federal do Pernambuco – 16 groups) [9]
  • UFF (Universidade Federal Fluminense – 15 groups) [10]: a Marine Biotechnology group in the Marine Biology Department working on bioactives, for example novel anti-HIV molecules from algae; the Marine Microbiology laboratory working on oil-pollution remediation; and research in the Dept of Cellular and Molecular Biology; UFF and IEAPM (Instituto de Estudos do Mar Almirante Paulo Moreira [11] collaborate on natural anti-foulants (biofilm inhibitors).
  • FURG (Fundação Universidade Federal do Rio Grande – 14 groups) has activity in bioactives from marine invertebrates and in biotechnology and processing of seafood, including value-added products [12]. Ciências do Mar Brasil [13] is based at FURG.
  • UFBA (Universidade Federal da Bahia – 13 groups) [14]
  • UFPR (Universidade Federal do Paraná – 11 groups) [15]
  • UERJ (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro)
  • UFPA (Universidade Federal do Pará) [16]
  • UFSCAR (Universidade Federal do São Carlos) [17]: work on molecular aquaculture of shrimp, mapping the genome for molecular markers of productivity and disease resistance.
  • CEM (Centro de Estudos do Mar) is involved in the microbiology and chemistry of phytoplankton, zooplankton and invertebrates [18].


The Brazilian government strongly supports networks. There are three highly relevant for marine biotechnology, including: RedeAlgas (the National Network on Macroalgae Biotechnology), established in 2005 by joint funding between MCTI and CNPq [19]. It has held 3 conferences on the biotechnological potential of seaweeds, bioactives and making sustainable use of macroalgal biodiversity. The network includes the most active research groups in over 20 universities. Rede interinstitucional de algas bentônicas, an inter-University collaboration working on algal bioactives for pain, inflammation and other conditions, involving the Federal Universities of Alagoas, Rio Grande do Norte, Pernambuco and Paraíba. This received R$730,000 from MCTI, CNPq and DECIT for set-up and initial projects. RBTB (Brazilian Biodiesel Technology Network is funded by MCT within the National Program for Production and Use of Biodiesel ), part of the activities of the Ministry of Mining and Energy [20]. RBTB was set up in 2004 with funds of R$ 12M. It includes universities such as UFG and UFPR.

SEPED/MCT funds PPBIO, a Biodiversity Research Program, established in 2006 [21], which produced a report on strategies for modernising Brazil’s culture collections and integrating biodiversity information [22].

Private investment

The Austrian company SAT (See Algae Technology ) is building an algal technology pilot plant at a cost of almost $US 10M, in collaboration with Grupo JB, a sugarcane ethanol production plant in Pernambuco state, to produce biofuels, algal biomass for animal feed, and extractable chemicals and lipids [23]. The target is to produce 1.2M litres of biofuels, using the CO2 output of the ethanol plant for algae growth, beginning with a 1 Ha test plant in late 2013. GM and non-GM microalgae will be used.



This draft country profile is based on available online information sources and contributions from various country experts and stakeholders. It does not aim nor claim to be complete or final, but should be considered as a dynamic and living information resource that will be elaborated, updated and improved as more information becomes available, including further inputs from experts and stakeholders.

The information on this page is based on information initially compiled by Meredith Lloyd-Evans (BioBridge) as part of the CSA MarineBiotech Project activities (2011-2013).