Plymouth Marine Laboratory

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Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Plymouth Marine Laboratory logo.png
Field of research
Marine science research centre
AddressProspect Place
LocationPlymouth, Devon, England
AffiliationsNatural Environment Research Council

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (abbreviated as PML) in the city of Plymouth, England, is a marine research organization and registered charity. It is a partner of the UK Research & Innovation’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). PML's chairman is Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent, its chief executive is Prof. Stephen de Mora and its patron is the film-maker James Cameron.

Research and capability[edit]

Research activity at PML broadly investigates global-scale issues of climate change and sustainability. PML's core capabilities are centred around biogeochemistry and systems science, ecosystem health and human health, and sustainable development and biodiversity. It has particular capacity around Earth observation, ecosystem modelling, microbial ecology, Blue biotechnology, socioeconomics and policy advice.

Specific research activities include the monitoring of ocean acidity and its effects on corals and shellfish, and this information is reported to the UK government. As part of its research into sustainability, PML uses technology such as photo-bioreactors to cultivate algae that could be used in the production of biofuels or in the treatment of waste water. Aside from its environmental research, PML also works alongside the Boots Group to investigate the use of algae in skin-care products, since these organisms utilise sunscreen-like compounds to protect themselves from the sun.[1]

Within its Seawater Hall, PML contains an in-house, fully contained, algal scale-up pilot plant. This contains a 550L biofence photobioreactor and a 1200L raceway pond system, as well as a range of smaller bubble column reactor systems at 3.5L and 11L capacity for smaller scale algal production.[2] These facilities are regularly used to generate dried algal biomass on the scale of grams to hundreds of grams. This algal innovation centre also investigates a range of downstream processing techniques for algal harvesting. In addition to large-scale investigations, PML also has a Single Cell Genomics facility: a dedicated clean room environment for single cell isolation, equipped with a high speed Atomic Force Microscope, cell-sorting flow cytometry capabilities and a number of liquid-handling machines.

PML has a wholly owned trading subsidiary, PML Applications Ltd., which has been created to facilitate the exploitation and application of PML research and its products and to provide a more appropriate interface for working with end users, industrial and commercial partners.[citation needed]


The Plymouth Marine Laboratory was founded in 1988, mainly due to the recommendations of a House of Lords Report. It was formed by drawing some elements of the Laboratory of the Marine Biological Association (MBA) with the NERC Institute for Marine Environmental Research (IMER).

On 1 April 2002, PML changed from being a wholly owned NERC research centre to an independent organisation with charitable status.



  1. ^ "The Plymouth Marine Laboratory". South West England RDA. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  2. ^ Hamilton, ML; Warwick, J; Terry, A; Allen, MJ; Napier, JA; Sayanova, O (14 December 2015). "Towards the Industrial Production of Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids from a Genetically Modified Diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum". PLoS ONE. 10 (12): e0144054. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144054. PMC 4681182. PMID 26658738.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°21′57″N 4°08′52″W / 50.36583°N 4.14778°W / 50.36583; -4.14778