Physiologie und Biotechnologie der pflanzlichen Zelle

Aquaculture of Fucus

Seaweed aquaculture and utilization

 

Seaweeds, i.e. green, red and brown macroalgae, are a rich source of valuable bioactive ingredients like unique carbohydrates (e.g. fucoidans) and polyphenols which cannot be found in other organisms. These compounds show many promising in vitro and in vivo activities like anti- carcinogenic, anti- oxidative, immunomodulatory, UV- protective, water- binding, antibiotic etc. Therefore, seaweeds are used as food additives, as extracts in cosmetics or in agricultural products, so called biostimulants.

However, there are still many open questions encouraging research about seaweeds in all fields from cultivation, over extraction and manufacturing to their application in various end products also including medicines.

 

Aquaculture of Fucus- species in the Baltic Sea

 

Brown algae of the genus Fucus are especially rich in bioactive ingredients which may be a consequence of their adaptation to the extremely harsh conditions of their habitat, the intertidal. Up to now, all traded Fucus- biomass originates from hand collections in France, Ireland and other European countries and no commercial cultivation has been established so far. Since the harvesting of wild Fucus- populations is prohibited at the German Baltic Sea coast, we aim for the development of a cultivation method that is efficient and applicable in this region. Cultivation of the local Fucus- species F. vesiculosus and F. serratus would not only be an additional source of income for the German Baltic Sea region but could also help in decreasing the nutrient levels of this highly eutrophic sea area.

The questions we try to answer are:

  1. Can the local Fucus- species be cultivated in freely floating culture using asexual reproduction as a means of propagation?
  2. Which growth rates can be expected in different seasons under cultivation conditions?
  3. How can overgrowth by fouling organisms (ephemeral algae, blue mussels, barnacles etc.) be prevented?
  4. Is it possible to prevent the formation of sexual organs in vegetative culture?

 

Utilization of Fucus- biomass in cosmetics

Cosmetics are one of the main fields of application of seaweed biomass. Especially the water binding capacity, UV- protection and the anti- oxidative potential of seaweed extracts are desired features. However, the bioactivity of extracts is highly dependent on the production process which basically consists of the following four steps, each influencing the activity of the resulting extract:

1. sourcing of raw algal material; 2. storage and processing of the biomass (e.g. dried or frozen);

3. milling; 4. extraction.

Each step can be performed in various ways resulting in a huge number of possible outcomes. Our aim is to find optimized procedures generating extracts which are e.g. especially UV- protective or have a very high anti- oxidative potential.

 

Contact regarding seaweed research: Rafael Meichßner (rmeichssner@bot.uni-kiel.de)