A pioneering research project between IBM and the University of Aberdeen has unlocked the secrets of deep water compounds using atomic force microscopy, opening new avenues for biological research.

scientists analysed an unknown bacterium from a mud sample taken from the Mariana Trench – the deepest place on Earth.

The technique allowed scientists from IBM Research to image individual molecules with atomic resolution within one week.

Professor Marcel Jaspars, director of the marine biodiscovery centre at the University of Aberdeen, said that a vast array of chemical compounds can be sourced from the natural environment, many of which are entirely unknown to science.

“These compounds have the potential to be used in the development of pharmaceuticals and other novel biomedical products,” Jaspars said.

“But in order to harness this potential we must first understand these compounds in terms of their molecular structure.”

The University of Aberdeen is focussing its studies on harnessing the potential of marine organisms as a source for chemical compounds, which could be used to treat cancer, inflammation, infections and parasitic diseases.