The Institut de la MEr de Villefranche (IMEV) | Assemble+

The Institut de la MEr de Villefranche (IMEV)


The Institut de la MEr de Villefranche (IMEV), formerly known as the Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer (OOV), is located on the Ligurian coast between Nice and Monaco in the bay of Villefranche which is known internationally for its richness of offshore pelagic organisms. IMEV was formerly a small research marine station. established in 1885 by Alexis de Korotneff (University of Kiev) and Carl Vogt (University of Geneva) in buildings leased from the Russian Navy. Since the 1930s, the facility has been administered by the University of Paris. Today, IMEV is composed of two joint laboratories (LBDV: Developmental Biology Laboratory and LOV: Oceanography Laboratory) and has become a world-renown research and training centre in marine ecology, oceanography and developmental biology, with about 200 staff on a 10,000 m2 campus. It is jointly operated by the Sorbonne Université (SU) (ex-UPMC), the French partner of ASSEMBLE Plus, and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

IMEV operates and maintains one of the three longest-running deep marine environmental monitoring stations in the world, and an important long-term pelagic observation programme. IMEV’s research topics include developmental biology, pelagic and coastal oceanography at regional and global scales, biological and biogeochemical cycles in marine environment, carbon cycling, phytoplankton production and biological diversity of zooplankton communities.


  • Mediterranean ecosystems


Ecosystem access

  • Coastal research vessels  (On-site service)
    • 12 m and 6 m 
    • Villefranche Bay
  • Sampling equipment  (On-site service)
    • For sampling of plankton (phyto and zoo)
    • Different sizes of nets: Regent 680 µm, Manta (surface, 330 µm), WP2 (50 & 200 µm), Bogorov 300 µm)
  • Scuba diving facilities  (On-site service)
    • Villefranche Bay

Access to all research equipment and technical support from the vessel and diving crews.

Biological resources

  • Biobanks  (On-site and remote service)
    • > 20000 planktonic samples from world wide & Tara expeditions (Ocean, Med, PolarCircle)
  • Marine model organisms (On-site and remote service)
    • A large range of Metazoan Marine model organisms such as echinoderms (e.g. Paracentrotus lividus), tunicates (e.g. Phallusia mammillata, Ciona intestinalis, Botryllus schlosseri), the cephalochordate Branchiostoma lanceolatum, cnidarians (e.g. Pelagia noctiluca, Clytia hemisphaerica).
  • Culture collections (On-site and remote service)
    • Mediterranean Culture Collection of Villefranche (MCCV): collection of microalgae including the toxic dinogflagellate Ostreopsis isolated from the Villefranche Bay
  • Species collected upon request (On-site and remote service)
    • Marine fauna and flora in situ Villefranche bay (chaetognaths, ctenophores, siphonophores..)


Experimental facilities 

  • Dry labs (On-site service)
    • Dry lab for molecular biology (PCR, qPCR, microbiology)
  • Wet labs (On-site service)
    • Space to setup experimental protocols and to observe samples (binocular and microscope)
    • Running water and equipped laboratory (Kreisel and standard aquaria) for 2 to 4 people 
  • Aquaria and tanks (On-site service)
    • Aquaria from 5 to 60 liters
    • Kreisel tanks (2 to 90 liters)
    • temperature- and photoperiod-controled conditions


Technology platforms

  • Imaging (On-site and remote service)
    • For planktonic taxonomy using Zooscan, Flowcam & UVP5 imaging system and Ecotaxa software
    • For developmental biology studies using Confocal (SP5 & SP8) and Full Field microscopes



  • Data-sets (Remote service)
    • Long-term monitoring dataset of local environmental physico-chemical and biological parameters (Moose, Dyfamed, Point B) 
    • Quantitative imaging platform


Supporting faciltites

  • Library services (On-site service)
    • Access to the historical library of the marine station
  • In-house lodging (On-site service)
    • 58 beds with 6 single bedrooms and 26 double bedrooms
  • In-house catering (On-site service)
    • Administrative canteen of 80 people capacity, open only at lunch time, not dinner

Computer and conference rooms equipped with visio meeting system


181 Chemin du Lazaret
06230 Villefranche-sur-Me

Liaison officer: Frédéric Bonino ( ), cc to: 


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