14/02/2022 | Dr. Rima Beesoo is a young researcher from Mauritius Island. She was recently awarded the prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to carry out her research in Germany. In April, she will start her work at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) and the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Sea (ICBS), University of Oldenburg. In her research Dr. Beesoo will explore the bioactive properties of selected jellyfish species and their potential application as novel nutraceuticals. The study will be carried out in collaboration with Dr. Andreas Kunzmann (ZMT) and Professor Peter Schupp (ICBS, University of Oldenburg).
Covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, the oceans represent a largely untapped source of structurally unique compounds, several of which have entered the global pharmaceutical pipeline as novel therapeutics. Among marine organisms, jellyfish represent a goldmine of bioactive compounds. In particular, they are known to be rich in proteins/peptides and polyphenols that can contribute to the endogenous antioxidant capacity of foods. Some edible species are also highly appreciated for their nutritional composition, which ensures a low-calorie intake, being low in carbohydrate, fat, and cholesterol.
Focus on jellyfish as a healthy food source
Jellyfish are widely known as a healthy and delicious food in the Chinese cuisine, traditional Chinese medicine and food therapy. However, their health impacts have not yet been adequately investigated by modern quantitative and rigorous research.
With increasing scientific knowledge about jellyfish as a healthy food source, an increased use of jellyfish as food, food supplements and nutraceuticals can be foreseen. Due to the growing awareness of health-related benefits associated with functional food consumption, successful innovations in food processing technology aim to preserve the healthy properties of foods. This increased demand for jellies and other novel marine food could have beneficial effects on coastal sea-based economies.
Therefore, in her research, the African scientist will investigate the nutritional components of jellyfish species currently in culture at ZMT with particular focus on changes in terms of their natural product chemistry induced by various culture conditions (e.g. varying growth temperature and light intensity). At ICBS, Rima will also assess the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity properties of the jellyfish derived extracts/compounds.
"Overall, if successful, this project will open a new and fertile area of research to pursue the search of novel bioactive agents from jellyfish. Furthermore, it will provide baseline scientific information on best and innovative practices for sustainably exploring jellyfish biomass for pharmaceutical application", says Dr. Rima Beesoo.
Rima Beesoo completed her PhD in the field of Applied Marine Biochemistry at the University of Mauritius. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER) in Brittany, France and University of Münster in Münster, Germany. During her PhD, she undertook research in Scotland, UK and South Africa. In 2017, Rima was selected as one the Best Mauritian Women Scientists by the Merck Foundation, and in 2018 she won the UNESCO L’Oréal Award for Women in Science for Sub-Saharan Africa. Recently, she won support through the African-German Network of Excellence in Science Programme (AGNES) and Georg Forster Research Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.