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Roscoff biology station

The Roscoff biology station is a research and teaching centre for marine biology and oceanology located on the North coast of Brittany. It is dependent on Sorbonne Université, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the National Institute of Sciences of the Universe (INSU).

Three Sorbonne Université laboratories are attached to the biology station:


The research carried out at the Roscoff biology station concerns many fields of marine biology and oceanology. It covers four major areas:
- The study of marine organisms and ecosystems 
- The understanding of the processes of adaptation and evolution 
- The development of new biological models 
- The search for active molecules (enzymes and natural products) for medical applications, for example

The research programs developed in the four research units involve molecular and cellular biology, the biology of organisms and populations, ecology using the latest technical advances in genomics, biophysics and chemistry. The marine organisms studied are the phytoplankton eucaryote and procaryote, macroalgae and invertebrates. The work is focused more particularly on the cell cycle of the sea urchin, the biochemistry and development of brown and red seaweed, the ecophysiology of hydrothermal fauna, the diversity of phytoplankton and zooplankton, the evolution and genetics of populations and benthic ecology. In marine chemistry, research is carried out on chemical tracers in order to understand the phenomena of the oceanic circulation of masses of water.


The Roscoff biology station includes four research units:
- Mixed Research Unit 7139: Marine Vegetation and Biomolecules
- Mixed Research Unit 7144: Adaptation and Diversity in the Marine Habitat
- Mixed Research Unit 7150: Sea and Health
- UPS 2682: Molecules and Therapeutic Objectives


Recognised as an Observatory for the Sciences of the Universe (OSU) since 1985 by the National Institute of Sciences of the Univers (INSU), the Roscoff biology station  aims to observe the coast within the framework of the following national networks :
- The Coastal Habitat Observation Service (SOMLIT). This service brings together seven marine stations. It carries out series of long-term observations on the coasts of the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea of different hydro-climatic parameters in order to better understand the impact of climate change and human activity on the functioning of ecosystems.
- The REBENT (Coastal Sea Biocenosis Observatory) network. Run by the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, this network is dedicated to the surveillance of benthic ecosystems. The studies provide reference data for the evaluation of natural or human-induced change. www.sb-roscoff.fr/site/observatoire.html.


The Roscoff biology station is one of the three non-central teaching sites of Sorbonne Université. Professionally oriented bachelor’s degree students and master’s students come to the Roscoff campus take teaching units in the following areas : cellular biology, genetics, vegetable sciences, physiology, marine ecology, biodiversity.
More information on the teaching provided by the Roscoff biology station of can be found here : www.sb-roscoff.fr/Enseignement/

ESTeam Program: A course to develop scientific excellence. The Roscoff biology station of was selected to be part of the ‘ Marie Curie ’ programmes initiated by the European Commission to give young, talented scientists the opportunity to carry out their thesis in a European country as part of international research teams. The Biology Station thus provides training to new, young researchers of all nationalities. The program established in Roscoff offers excellent teaching in research in the area of marine biology and its emerging technologies.


Main research partners: Université de Bretagne Occidentale, French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, National Museum of Natural History, etc.

Founding member of the ‘competitiveness cluster’ ‘ Sea ’, recognised by the State as one of the competitiveness clusters of global significance . (So-called ‘competitiveness clusters’ are associations in France of companies/institutions that cooperate on innovative projects intended to increase the competitiveness of a given market.)

Founding member of Europôle Mer , a European research cluster that brings together the main participants in West Brittany in the area of research, teaching and the promotion and spread of science in relation to the field of the sciences and technologies of the sea .

Member of Cancéropôle Grand Ouest , which brings together cancer research establishments in the Grand Ouest region of France.

Founding member of OUEST-genopole®, which works toward the development of genomics and post-genomics.


Coordinator of the European excellence network Marine Genomics Europe:

This network brings together 45 research institutions across the whole of Europe . Its objective is to reinforce European synergies and develop research based on the approaches of genomics in order to understand the functioning of ecosystems and the biology of marine organisms.

Partner of the Pontifical University of Chile within the framework of the International Associated Laboratory ‘ Dispersal and Adaptation in Marine Species (DIAMS) ’. The objective of the programme  is to study the biological processes that affect the distribution and diversity of species and populations , to analyse the influence on these processes of climate change and human activity in coastal marine waters.

Partner in European excellence networks: Marbef (93 partner research organisations). Area of interest: Marine biodiversity. Eur-Océans (66 partner research organisations). Areas of interest: Global change and the functioning of deep-sea marine ecosystems.


Technical platforms for use in research programmes related to marine genomics: Sequencing, bioinformatics in mass spectrometry, transcriptomics. These platforms that have been chosen by Genopôle for sequencing and bioinformatics are open to all the partner research teams of OUEST-genopole® within the context of their sequencing projects at medium and high speeds.

Equipement for biology and structural chemistry

Access to the sea. The sea and observation service has a 12-metre oceanographic caostal ship equipped with scientific material on board. The means available to the sea service (ship, sub-aquatic diving, use of aquariums) can, upon request, be made available to scientists hosted at the Biology Station of Roscoff.
In addition, it harvests biological models for the scientific community. The organisms can be requested via the following website: http://www.sb-roscoff.fr/ModBiol

Specialist reference collection in marine science containing over 7,000 monographs and 1,300 collections of periodicals. Access on-line

Scientific hosting and conference centre. The biology station has a long tradition of hosting researchers, teachers and students of all nationalities. It makes available to them equipment that allows them to work in the best conditions – individual laboratories equipped with running sea water and access to the sea. Its conference centre, highlighted by the National Centre for Scientific Research, offers all the services and guest capacity necessary to host scientific conferences such as an auditorium, meeting rooms, restaurant facilities and rooms or studios for rent. See the website.

Marielle Guichoux - 02/01/18

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