The Oceanographic Observatory of Banyuls-sur-Mer (OOB), also called Laboratoire ARAGO, was founded in 1882 by the Sorbonne zoologist Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers in a location with exceptional marine biodiversity and well-situated for oceanographic studies. As recognition of this hot spot for marine biodiversity, the first Marine Reserve in France was established in Banyuls in 1974. In addition, the second National Marine Park in France and the first marine protected area on the French Mediterranean coast, has been created in 2012, with a large perimeter including the deep Lacaze-Duthiers canyon of Banyuls-sur-Mer.
Mission and research:
Since its inception, the main tasks of the Observatory are to train future generations of scientists, to conduct research, to insure the monitoring of the coastal environment and to allow the public to discover the marine and terrestrial biodiversity of the area.Research is conducted in several marine research areas such as marine biology, microbiology, biogeochemistry, marine ecology, integrative and evolutionary biology and biotechnology. There is a focus on the study of biodiversity and the effects of environmental disturbance on organisms and ecosystems.
The Observatory operates two boats, a 14 m long vessel certified to work up to 20 nautical miles from the coast and a 6 m long boat dedicated to littoral work. The scuba diving service is operated by two scientific divers.
The OOB offers facilities for accommodating visiting scientists including laboratories, climate control rooms, and computer and conference rooms. Laboratories are available with access to all basic research equipment and technical support. Teaching facilities include laboratories for up to 70 students.
A cytometry platform, one of the best-equipped in Europe with solid phase- and fountain flow cytometers; an imaging platform with a transmission electron microscope are available. The OOB also has 4 technical facilities gathered in the BIO2MAR platform to permit the exploitation of marine organisms by diversity characterization, isolation and culture of microorganisms, biomass production, and the purification of biomolecules.
Main marine models
A large range of invertebrate marine organisms are studied such as cephalochordate Branchiostoma lanceolatum, echinoderms (e.g., Paracentrotus lividus), tunicates (e.g., Phallusia mamillata), annelids (e.g., Ditrupa arietina), cnidarians (e.g., Corallium rubrum), shellfish, molluscs, sponges, and bryozoans. The OOB also provides access to microorganisms, in particular to two bacterial model species of the genus Photobacterium and the genus Marinobacter, the eukaryotic picoalgae Ostreococcus tauri (for which a genetic resource in terms of reporter lines and mutants is available), Bathycoccus sp. and Micromonas sp. together with their associated viruses.
One unit of the OOB has research links with the pharmaceutical and cosmetics company, Pierre Fabre Laboratories. Other companies at the interface of public health and the environment collaborate with the Observatory. Principal partners are EDF, Veolia Environnement, Microphyt and Microbia Environnement. Microbia Environnement is a start-up company which emerged at and is hosted by the OOB.
- Integrative biology of marine organisms
- Biodiversity and microbial biotechnology
- Ecogeochemistry of benthic environments
- Microbial oceanography