Back to search

HAVBRUK2-Stort program for havbruksforskning

SBEP - Boosting seaweed farming through better utilisation of genetic resources

Alternative title: Styrking av makroalgedyrking gjennom bedre utnytting av genetiske ressurser

Awarded: NOK 4.6 mill.

Blue Bio Boost aims for sustainable economic development of the macroalgae industry by improving the efficiency of propagation and selection of suitable genotypes (Objective 1), by better exploiting genetic variation, while at the same time minimizing the potential for genetic pollution of natural populations (Objective 2), and by actively involving stakeholders in creating a plan for future macroalgae breeding in Europe (Objective 3). Blue Bio Boost will investigate two options to avoid impact on natural populations due to crossing beween cultivated and natural populations; (1) a “mix-to-match" approach where we cultivate mixtures of superior material with allele frequencies similar to those of the local natural populations, and (2) techniques that could facilitate breeding of improved genotypes and production of sterile macroalgae for cultivation in the future. A broad and representative Stakeholder Engagement Group (SEG) will be established and function both in co-design of a strategy for the future European breeding of macroalgae focusing on economic and ecological objectives, and as a channel for dissemination activities.

Macroalgal biomass has multiple uses and is recognized as a target for increased production in Europe. In order to boost the growing seaweed industry, it is necessary to better utilise the genetic variation to increase yield, quality and stability of the cultivated crop. The current macroalgae cultivation practice in Europe starts every year from new seeding material, obtained directly from local natural populations. There is no selection of the most suitable genotypes, and no storage of seeding material. Hence, no genetic progress in terms of yield and quality is obtained in the cultivated material over time. This is in sharp contrast to virtually all land-based crop production, animal husbandry and fish aquaculture, where domestication has led to selection of genetic material with cumulative improvement of desired traits. There is, however, concern about the potential spread and mixing of domesticated macroalgae with natural populations (introgression), and the ecological consequences this may have, including erosion of the present natural genetic diversity. Blue Bio Boost will investigate two options to avoid impact on natural populations; (1) a “mix-to-match" approach where we cultivate mixtures of superior material with allele frequencies similar to those of the local natural populations, thus attempting to circumvent the problem of introgression, and (2) techniques that could facilitate breeding of improved genotypes and production of sterile sporophytes in the future. A broad and representative Stakeholder Engagement Group (SEG) will be established and function both in co-design of a strategy for the future European breeding of macroalgae focusing on economic and ecological objectives, and as a channel for dissemination activities.

Funding scheme:

HAVBRUK2-Stort program for havbruksforskning

Thematic Areas and Topics

No thematic area or topic related to the project