News, Research and Development

CQ Uni is researching warm water seaweed as sustainable solution

Marine scientists at CQ university are researching the offshore farming of seaweed as a solution to the cattle industry’s methane emissions.

Seaweed research is pertinent topic at the moment with one particular species blowing the others away with its environmental benefits.

Seaweed farming is happening globally as a source of human food, animal feed, pharmaceuticals, and other smart materials, but one variety has been relatively untouched and is proving to be the cream of the crop.

Asparagopsis, a red seaweed, has grabbed the attention of agricultural and science communities due to its ability to combat the amount of gas passed out of cattle and other livestock, reducing their methane emissions by almost 90 per cent.

Research has shown farming the wild product adjacent to coral reef systems could also be beneficial, by improving water quality, contributing to maintaining the health of the reef.

Researchers at CQUniversity’s Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC) based in Gladstone in Queensland are leading research into the offshore farming of this red seaweed and are excited by the commercial and environmental opportunities the underwater crop is unearthing.

Phd researcher Emma Theobald said, “My project is around the reproduction of the seaweed, so I’m looking at what conditions best suits the species – temperature, light and nutrients – to maximise its productivity.”

According to CMERC’s Seaweed lead, Dr Manoj Kumar, understanding what triggers the reproduction in Asparagopsisis is crucial not only to managing its life cycle, but ensuring consistent spore supply for seeding regardless of season.

“By gaining insights into the reproductive mechanisms, researchers can initiate breeding efforts, refine protoplast isolation for efficient biomass generation, and employ genetic engineering methodologies to develop Asparagopsis varieties with desired traits, contributing to the sustainable growth and application of this valuable marine resource,” said Kumar.

Considering the huge commercial potential of Asparagopsis, CMERC’s phd researcher Najeen Rula is looking at developing sustainable ways of harvesting the seaweed.

“Part of my study will also look at the potential of harvesting as a means to prevent seaweed overgrowth in corals or artificial substrates such as wharves or pontoons,” said Rula.

CMERC’s red seaweed projects have been sponsored by the Australian Seaweed Institute and FutureFeed.

Send this to a friend