autumn 2022
BIO-3612 Marine bioprospecting and bioactive compounds - 10 ECTS

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester.Exchange students and Fulbright students: 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

For students taking the Marine Biotechnology - master program the course is mandatory. The course can be taken as a singular course.

Admission requirements

A bachelor's degree in biotechnology, marine biotechnology or equivalent education. Required background in biotechnology: Basic biology, chemistry, cell and molecular biology and organic chemistry (1000 level, 1st-2nd year). In-depth specialisation must also have been undertaken at the 2000 level (2nd-3rd year), as a minimum, in chemistry/biochemistry (min. 10 credits), microbiology (min. 10 credits) and molecular biology/methods in molecular biology (min. 10 credits).

Application code 9371.

Obligatory prerequisites

BIO-2513 Marine Biodiversity, BIO-2606 General and marine biotechnology

Course overlap

If you pass the examination in this course, you will get an reduction in credits (as stated below), if you previously have passed the following courses:

BIO-2607 Marin bioprospecting 10 stp

Course content

Students learn the processes and techniques used to detect and characterise bioactive compounds from marine organisms and their genes in early phases. Research in this field is essential to facilitate further development and document the concept of the bioactive compound(s) and also how to optimise them to make medicines or other commercial products.

It can take a long time to develop bioactive components. It is a complicated process from the actual proof of a find ("hit") and subsequent characterisation, until there is documented agreement about whether it is worth investing in further development all the way up to the creation of a commercial product.

The topics in the course range from identifying biological resources in the sea to applying various traditional and new biotechnological methods. The course examines the application/analysis of these resources and their genes, characteristics of bioactive components (and genes), their chemical structures, bioactivities and mechanisms of action.

The various methods used in bioprospecting are thoroughly reviewed and the opportunities and challenges they present are brought into focus. The bioassay-guided purification method is used during the two-week compulsory laboratory course. The laboratory exercise covers extraction, testing, separation/isolation and introductory characterisation of both bioactive compounds and their mechanisms of action, concentrating particularly on antibacterial activity. The lab course will take place in research laboratories associated with the Bioprospecting Research Group, both at the Department of Norwegian College of Fishery Science and on the screening platform Marbio.

Examples of development of natural marine products and their applications will be presented (anti-cancer, antimicrobial activity towards antibacterial resistant bacteria, immunomodulating agents, antioxidants, enzymes and enzyme-inhibiting activity).

Other topics, not mentioned above, will be covered in lectures. These are: Other methods in bioprospecting, structure biology with genomic/metagenomics, virtual screening and metabolomics; Natural products and case studies; Ethics, legislation and agreements related to bioprospecting and commercial potential; Different phases in drug discovery; Challenges and solutions of supply of more material; Applications and new trends.

Objectives of the course

On successful completion of the course students will have achieved the following learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding. The candidate

  • has advanced knowledge about what is involved in the concept of bioactivity-focused marine bioprospecting (bioassay guided) and the value chain involved
  • is familiar with several methods that are used in bioprospecting (genetic and metagenomic approaches and digital screening, as well as methods based on structural similarities)
  • knows about natural marine substances and their bioactivities
  • knows about marine resources (including genes) such as animal life (evertebrates), bacteria, microalgae, macroalgae, plants and other marine biomass
  • understands the practical and legal challenges related to exploitation of biological resources in research and development, and commercialisation
  • understands research challenges and other demands when using the various methods
  • has advanced knowledge of various chromographic and mass-spectroscopic methods and analyses related to isolating, bioactivity testing and characterisation of marine molecules and their mechanisms of actions
  • has sound knowledge of examples of the exploitation of natural marine products, including non-medical applications

Skills. The candidate

  • has a theoretical and practical understanding of bioactivity-focused marine bioprospecting (bioassay guided) and what this value chain includes
  • can familiarise him/herself with an experimental protocol and carry out an experimental laboratory exercise in bioprospecting
  • can analyse result data
  • can write a laboratory report that summarises the results from the practical laboratory exercise (includes sections on introduction, materials and methods, result and discussion; IMRAD)
  • can work effectively on his/her own or as a member of a team

Expertise. The candidate

  • knows about various analyses used in bioprospecting; various chromographic and mass-spectroscopic methods and analyses related to isolation, bio-activity testing and characterisation of marine molecules and mechanisms of action, and
  • knows how to exploit natural marine products, including non-medical applications.

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

Lectures and seminars, compulsory laboratory course, one-day fieldwork trip to demonstrate how to gather marine material. Submission of report and oral presentation of the results. There will be guest lectures.


Examination: Date: Weighting: Duration: Grade scale:
School exam 08.12.2022 09:00
6/10 4 Hours A–E, fail F
Assignment 4/10 A–E, fail F

Coursework requirements:

To take an examination, the student must have passed the following coursework requirements:

Lab report first submission Approved – not approved
Cruise report Approved – not approved
Professionality Approved – not approved
UiT Exams homepage

More info about the coursework requirements

  • Portfolio of assignments based on lectures throughout the semester 
  • Approved cruise report  
  • Professionality. Students will be expected to act professionally; as if they are training for a paid position in a biotechnology industry, business, government agency or university. Acting like a professional includes the following activities: thoughtful participation in during lectures; providing critical and positive feedback to peers; being respectful and courteous to all peers, instructors and guests; using and developing proper forms of professional communication (such as email, share drives, electronic documents); and being present and punctual for all course activities. Students are expected to attend all classes and to participate actively. If students must miss a class, they are expected to inform the instructor in advance.  

Re-sit examination

There will be a re-sit examination for students that did not pass the previous ordinary examination. The re-sit exam is held in late February or early March. The student must retake the part(s) of the exams he/she failed (school exam and/or a revised laboratory report) The deadline to sign up in StudentWeb is 15 January. 
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: BIO-3612
  • Earlier years and semesters for this topic