Soggy sea squirts hanging off the neighboring dockside might not seem like close family members, but their evolutionary connection with vertebrates, as well as humans, along with their ecosystem lie at the heart of a research plan, which has just been able to win $1.05 million coming as a financial support for a scientist at Nelson-based Cawthron Institute.
Sea squirts make their livelihood by sieving huge amount of seawater and pulling out from bacteria and plankton.
To do this, they have developed mechanisms to identify and crash any poisonous chemicals that are present in what they eat.
The massive complication, and enormous diversity, of such natural marine toxins denote that they have long been considered as a rich source of possible drugs.
Dr. Andrew Fidler, a Chemical Ecologist, intends to re-constitute the necessary elements of the sea squirt poison detection method.
If the method is brought into usage, it might then be likely to screen marine samples for chemicals that, though partly poisonous, could eventually prove to be beneficial to humans.
Dr. Fidler's thoughts have won $1.05million in financial assistance from the Government's New Economy Research Fund (NERF), which provides assistance in innovative research with lasting commercial potential that finally helps human beings.