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Courtesy of Mike Allen and Steve Gschmeissner

The extraction and characterisation of brown algae for bioactive treatments against pests and pathogens of crop plants

Principle investigator: Thomas Torode
Keele University

The brown algae are a plentiful, renewable source of biomass that require no arable land or fresh water for cultivation. The biomass is primarily cell wall material that is rich in:  high-value polysaccharides, such as alginate and sulphated fucans (35-45 % dry weight), and a family of diverse phenolic-based compounds called phlorotannins (5-15 % dry weight). The biomass of brown algae is therefore a desirable source of unique polymers and pigments for biotechnology.

This collaborative project between researchers at Keele University and Plater Bio will explore species of brown algae that are not commonly harvested for industrial purposes. We will then optimise extraction techniques to maximise the potential to un-lock biomass from the brown algae for use in biotechnology. Finally, we will assess the use of seaweed-derived compounds as biocontrol agents for use in the management of pests and pathogens of crop plants. This project will provide the proof-of-concept for use of brown algae as a source of novel bioactivities and will provide a platform for utilising the diverse and expansive marine resources available within the United Kingdom.