Molecular biology is a related area of specialization in this field. Researchers apply molecular approaches and techniques to many environments, from coastal ponds to the deep sea, and to many different organisms, from microscopic bacteria, plants and animals to marine mammals. For example, molecular biology can be used to identify the presence of a specific organism in a water sample through the use of molecular probes. This is very useful when the organism in question is microscopic or similar to other organisms. The study of disease in organisms has also been aided by the use of molecular techniques. Researchers have developed antibodies that are specific to a particular virus, so that when the virus is present in the organism, detection and diagnosis is easier and faster. Likewise, new molecular techniques help scientists identify whether or not an animal has been exposed to pollutants and, in some cases, can determine the source of those pollutants. The field of molecular biology is growing and will continue to see significant advances.
Aquaculture and Environmental Biology
Aquaculture, the farming of finfish, shellfish and seaweeds, is another field that has been aided by marine biotechnology and molecular techniques. Aquaculture is gaining importance in this country as consumer demand for fish and shellfish becomes greater than can be met by traditional commercial fishing. At the same time, technological advances have made aquaculture more economically feasible. In one example, researchers developed a "triploid" oyster, whose meat remains firm and sweet throughout the entire spawning season (May to August). By extending the harvesting and marketing season of the oyster, its economic value is increased.