Potential products from the highly diverse and endemic macroalgae of Southern Australia and pathways for their sustainable production

Andrew Lorbeer, Raymond Tham, Wei Zhang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Macroalgae provide a substantial and renewable resource that can be sustainably utilized for economic and social benefit. A US$7 billion global industry already exists for macroalgae, but the huge majority of this is based on the production of species belonging to approximately six genera, within eight countries, for the manufacture of foods, industrial biomaterials and agricultural products. However, seaweed-derived functional products spanning numerous chemical classes have been identified with valuable therapeutic and industrial applications. This review focuses on the breadth of valuable bioproducts that could be produced from the seaweeds of Southern Australia-a hotspot for seaweed diversity, and the pathways available for their sustainable commercial production. This region contains among the highest level of recorded macroalgal diversity and endemism in the world, with approximately 1,200 described species, of which 62 % are considered endemic. Whilst a number of these species have been shown to be rich sources of higher-value functional products, and most of them still await exploration in this field, the seaweed industry of Southern Australia is largely limited to the harvest of beach-cast biomass for the manufacture of lower-value commodities such as fertilizer and animal feed. There is potential for the development of a substantial industry based on human functional products from seaweeds in Southern Australia. However, a number of challenges and knowledge gaps-including environmental, technological, agronomic, political, and cultural factors-are identified in this review, which must be addressed before sustainable expansion can be achieved. Furthermore, numerous strategic approaches and areas of suggested foci are underscored for research bodies and industry alike. Particular emphasis is given to the need for comprehensive surveying and bioprospecting of the resource; a focus on advanced downstream processing capabilities for improving production efficiency and enhancing product value; the use of biorefinery approaches to improve utilisation efficiency; and pursuing means of improving the sustainability of supply chains.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)717-732
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
    Volume25
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

    Keywords

    • Aquaculture
    • Biodiscovery
    • Bioprocessing
    • Biorefinery
    • Commercialisation
    • Seaweed

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