Okeanos Research Laboratory, founded and directed by Dr. Andrew S Mount, PhD investigates cellular mechanisms of biomineralization and biofouling in marine organisms. The lab is an innovator of fouling deterrent and bioceramic materials.
Previously, molluscan shell was thought to be assembled through the extracellular organic matrix. In 2004, Andrew S. Mount discovered that molluscan hemocytes were responsible for production of shell independent of the matrix. He observed that hemocytes contained calcium carbonate crystals and that granular hemocytes were abundant during shell regeneration. This model of cellular biomineralization is the basis for much of the research performed by the Okeanos Research Laboratory. Current research in this area aims to identify the mechanisms, signal transduction pathways, and immune molecules involved in cellular biomineralization and shell regeneration. Oyster shell is an extremely strong material and applications for harnessing this technology are numerous.
We have identified environmentally friendly ways of preventing biofouling, or the attachment of marine life to ships. Biofouling is a costly problem in which organisms such as barnacles use chemosensory organisms to locate surfaces palatable for settlement. By using innate signaling molecules which are objectionable to these organisms, we have identified a novel and sustainable way to protect ships from biofouling without harming the organisms or environment.
Okeanos uses and develops highly sophisticated and advanced microscopy techniques, including two photon confocal and electron microscopy. This laboratory takes a discipline-spanning approach, teaming with polymer scientists and engineers to address these questions. Other research interests include climate change and ocean acidification.