Scientists develop super seaweed growing technique

Friday, 02 September, 2022

Scientists develop super seaweed growing technique

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute in Haifa have developed a technology that is able to grow ‘enriched’ seaweed that may be a nutritious ‘superfood’ in the future.

The technology increases the growth rate, protein levels, healthy carbohydrates and minerals in the seaweed’s tissues.

In a study published in Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, the researchers describe their method of growing local algae species, Ulva, Gracilaria and Hypnea, near fish farming systems under varying environmental conditions.

These conditions, which included high irradiance, nutrient starvation and high salinity, forced the seaweed to adapt and then flourish. The result was an improvement of its nutritional value.

“Seaweed can be regarded as a natural superfood, more abundant in the necessary components of the human diet than other food sources,” said PhD student Doron Ashkenazi, who is one of the study’s authors.

“Through the technological approach we developed, a farm owner or entrepreneur will be able to plan in advance a production line of seaweed rich in the substances in which they are interested, which can be used as health foods or nutritional supplements; for example, seaweed with a particularly high level of protein, seaweed rich in minerals such as iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium and zinc, or in special pigments or antioxidants.

“The enriched seaweed can be used to help populations suffering from malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies, for example, disadvantaged populations around the world, as well as supplements to a vegetarian or vegan diet.”

The team of researchers suggest that use of highly nutritional aquaculture could be a way of creating food in an environmentally friendly manner. The seaweed produced through this method could serve as a food both for people and animals. Additionally, the farming method can reduce nutrient loads in coastal water.

Ashkenazi said: “Technologies of this type are undoubtedly a model for a better future for humanity, a future where humans live in idyll and in health in their environment.”

A study published earlier in the year by University of Gothenburg researchers found that process wastewater could increase the nutritional value of seaweed.

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