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GENIALG Project Results Help to Boost the European Seaweed Sector

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By Milthon Lujan

Results from an innovative European seaweed research project have laid the foundations to strengthen the seaweed cultivation and biorefining industry in Europe, promoting sustainable seaweed farming for future generations.

Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program,GENIALG has developed innovative solutions to help production of seaweed biomass in Europe to become more economically and environmentally sustainable.

GENIALG has tackled key challenges facing the industry including how to reduce costs, scale-up production and improve the quality and refinement of seaweed biomass into multiple value-added products.

Seaweed or macroalgae, has long been recognised as a valuable source of diverse bioactive compounds and has great potential to be used in pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and functional foods, to name but a few! As both the world population and aquaculture continue to expand, it is vital to develop new, innovative and eco-friendly solutions to ensure that the European seaweed industry quantity and quality meet market demands.

Since its initiation in 2017, GENIALG has made significant contributions to the European seaweed research and industry landscape. Key outputs include:

– Demonstrating the techno-economic feasibility of cultivating land-based sea lettuce and of cultivating sugar kelp in the open sea

– Applying the first genome-wide approaches and a customised phenotyping platform for seaweed strain selection and improvement to improve understanding of seaweed genetics and physiological traits

– Creating new approaches for valorising new and existing products from seaweed compounds that have pharmaceutical applications. These include fucoxanthin from Saccharina and various fractions from Ulva which are used in animal and plant care and, in the near future, expected to have applications in human healthcare.

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– Developing novel marine enzymes and enzyme cocktails for seaweed fractionation.

– Improving access to reliable information about seaweed farming best practices and the innovations of seaweed biorefinery:

The GENIALG E-Learning Course on sustainable seaweed farming practices is freely available to students, current practitioners within the seaweed industry or anyone interested in entering the seaweed industry. 

The GENIALG Manual on Best Practices for Seaweed Farming is a valuable resource with information on biocontainment and management of pests and pathogens. 

The GENIALG Biorefinery Manual explaining the benefits and sustainability of seaweed biorefinery processes 

The GENIALG website (genialgproject.eu) showcases the project’s results and innovative outputs, including links to publications, events and partner contact details, giving partners the opportunity to explore further opportunities for end users to exploit and use the outputs.

Philippe Potin, GENIALG Project Coordinator, highlighted the impact of the project:
“GENIALG has approached all legal, financial, environmental, socio-economic and technical aspects to facilitate the development of the European seaweed sector, from seaweed farming to the production of molecules of interest to the seaweed industry. By combining a trans-sector partnership with an integrated and sustainable approach, GENIALG aimed to meet the market needs in the fields of health, nutrition, cosmetics and agriculture. New technologies, methods and tools (genomics and post-genomics) have been developed, e.g., for seeding, harvesting, rearing, cultivating and storing seaweed as well as for pre-processing, fractionation, extraction and purification of the biomolecules within the seaweeds.”

For more information on GENIALG and to access key results and resources, please visit genialgproject.eu

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Source: AquaTT

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