The Marine Biological Association (MBA) | EMBRC

The Marine Biological Association (MBA)


The Marine Biological Association is a Learned Society, founded in 1884 and one of the UK's leading marine biological research institutes. The MBA currently employs about 75 staff and postgraduate researchers. In 2013, the MBA was granted a Royal Charter in recognition of its eminent history and status in the field of marine biology.

Mission and research:

The MBA promotes scientific research into all aspects of life in the sea and disseminates to the public the knowledge gained. The research programme is structured around the broad themes “ecosystems and environmental change” and “mechanisms underlying biogeochemical and ecological processes. Within these themes, the MBA research groups carry out research on marine biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity and ecosystem function, science for sustainable marine resources, as well as running a programme of integrating sustained observations in the marine environment. The MBA also runs a strong and dedicated teaching and training programme for both researchers and the public.

Marine facilities:

Two coastal research vessels. 20 multi-purpose landers to deploy autonomous monitoring stations for up to one year.


The MBA has a modern seawater system with holding tanks, algal culture facilities (including chemostats), and fully equipped wet, “dry” and sterile laboratory space with all necessary facilities. Technical support for the laboratory and IT facilities and access to the National Marine Biological Library, the Plymouth Culture collection of Phytoplankton, and the Marine Life Information Network (MARLIN).


Full molecular genetics facilities (PCR, Real-time PCR, DNA sequencing, cell culture, etc), a highly advanced imaging and cell physiology facility (confocal, multiphoton and TIRF systems). The laboratory is also equipped with HPLC, gas chromatography, spectrophotometry, spectrofluorimetry, atomic absorption spectrophotometry and a radio isotope laboratory.

Main marine models:

Brown macroalgae, coccolithophores (Emiliania huxleyi, Coccolithus pelagicus), diatoms, cephalopods (Sepia officinalis), cephalochordates Branchiostoma lanceolatum, echinoderms (Echinus esculentus, Psammechinus miliaris), ascidians (Ciona intestinalis), elasmobranchs Scyliorhinus canicula.

Research topics: 
  1. Phytoplankton biology
  2. Algal signaling
  3. Algal viruses
  4. Marine microbes and biogeochemical processes
  5. Movement ecology, behavior and population structure
  6. Marine biodiversity and climate change