Knowledge transfer & partnership

ISEM promotes partnership and knowledge transfer with the socioeconomic community and countries of the Global South via its research, training through research and teaching activities. Over the 2014-2019 period, 12 partnerships with socioeconomic stakeholders were developed, with 32% of ISEM publications produced in partnership with countries of the Global South.

ISEM research leads to enhancement and effective use of its knowledge in a range of disciplinary areas while being focused on local actors, R&D and innovation. These interactions with socioeconomic spheres lead to programmes for the management of biodiversity and natural and archaeological heritage, patent filing, R&D contracts with industrial operators, CIFRE contracts (French industrial agreements for training through research), and the creation of businesses and joint laboratories with private companies. A few project examples are outlined below.

Mitochondria analysis after coloration ©Abdel_Aouacheria

Mitochondrial morphology

Mitochondria are capable of perceiving internal and external cellular alterations, while responding to stress or special needs via adaptive changes, thereby making them excellent organelles for assessing the health status of cells. As the shape of mitochondria directly reflects their functionality, it is particularly interesting to analyse the architecture and dynamics of mitochondrial networks to assess the beneficial activity of target constituents. Two industrial partnerships have thus been set up with SILAB and CLARIANT, two companies serving the cosmetics industry. This has given rise to a CIFRE thesis and the creation of two quantitative imaging software packages for confocal videomicroscopy data analysis. Mitochondrial morphology studies can also highlight harmful effects (predictive and environmental toxicology) or help identify new biomarkers (of pathological conditions). As these organelles emerged before the evolutionary radiation of eukaryotes, our tools can also generate information on the mitochondrial diversity between taxonomic groups, in connection with the metabolism of species and their developmental or immune processes. The MITOMATIQUE project is accredited by the MUSE I-SITE Biomarkers & Therapy key initiative (KIM) and the CNRS prematurity programme.

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Coastal seabed mapping

A joint laboratory with the Andromède Océanologie firm (LabCom “Air to Sea”) was set up in 2017 with the aim of developing an automated system for very high resolution and 3D mapping of shallow coastal seabeds to enable accurate monitoring of sensitive ecosystems such as Posidonia meadows and coralligenous habitats in these coastal areas. Meanwhile, the team has also developed an innovative, silent nautical electric prototype vehicle, while a drone version of this so-called “overboat” has also been designed for monitoring and observation operations. Three patents have been filed as part of this project, which was the focus of a French industrial innovation programme (2017-2019) financed by SATT-AxLR, in turn leading to the launch of the NEOCEAN start-up in 2020.

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Overboard ©Vincent_Dufour

Molecular diagnostic tests

Studies on the diversity of aquaculture pathogens have led to the development of a new method for the detection and identification of microorganisms with lethal impacts on fish farms. This method is based on high-resolution DNA melting analysis for sensitive, rapid cost-effective diagnosis. A proof of concept carried out on 19 mycobacteria species led to the filing of two patents and to an industrial innovation initiative (2016-2019) funded by SATT-AxLR. An industrial partnership was created with IDVet, a firm that has signed an exclusive licence agreement for the use of one of these patents in the animal health field. Meanwhile, a commercial software package (MelTree, international IDDN registering in progress) was developed for analysis automation. The partnership with IDVet was recently strengthened via the set up of the “DiagMelt” LabCom (2019-2021), which is geared towards marketing diagnostic kits.

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The Institute of Evolutionary Science of Montpellier (ISEM – University of Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, EPHE, CIRAD, INRAP) has been focusing research on biodiversity origins and dynamics and the associated evolutionary mechanisms.