The EU project ASSEMBLE links Europe’s nine largest marine research units with research stations in Israel and Chile. The purpose is to concentrate the marine research infrastructure and make it available to more European researchers through a guest researcher programme.

The network is coordinated by the University of Gothenburg’s Sven LovĂ©n Centre for Marine Sciences. The Centre’s research stations on the island of Tjärnö outside Strömstad and at Kristineberg in Fiskebäckskil have a strong tradition of internationally successful co-operations.

One successful example is the Norwegian research team currently studying the peculiar pipefish, a relative of the seahorse, at Kristineberg. The team has shown that the fish is at odds with conventional gender roles, to say the least: the female makes the male “pregnant” by transferring her eggs to him through her ‘penis’.

Another example of the importance of the guest researcher programme is the early studies on bioluminescence (the ability of animals to produce light) conducted in the 1960s at Kristineberg by the 2008 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Osamu Shimomura.

‘By participating in the network, we hope to broaden the scope of what we do and attract researchers from outside the field of marine biology such as biotechnology and biomedicine’, says project coordinator Professor Mike Thorndyke, who works at the LovĂ©n Centre at Kristineberg.

Marine research is dependent on the ability of stations to provide marine organisms, both on-site and by shipment. A portion of the project’s budget is therefore earmarked for the development of this service. Money will for example be spent on new experimental equipment to culture various species year-round.

The cooperation also includes contacts with the Genomics Core Facility at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

Michael Thorndyke, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Department of Marine Ecology at the University of Gothenburg.

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