This program focuses on the freshwater macroalgal genus Oedogonium which is a key group of species used in the bioremediation of agricultural, municipal and industrial waste waters. Our research optimises macroalgal biomass production and bioremediation for wastes stream at a scale that is relevant to industry. The overarching goal is to provide a cost-effective option for nutrient bioremediation and a platform for sustainable and commercially viable macroalgal biomass production. The resultant algal biomass is rich in protein (~20%), has a high lipid content (~10%) and a novel carbohydrate profile.
This program focuses on the development and optimisation of the large scale production of food grade seaweed from the genus Ulva, in particular Ulva tepida (aonori) and Ulva ohnoi (aosa). While the large scale production of U. ohnoi is resolved, the process for the land-based cultivation of the filamentous U. tepida, which typically grows attached to surface structures, in free-floating cultures remains to be optimized. Both species of Ulva contain sulfated polysaccharides (ulvans) which have strong nutraceutical and pharmaceutical properties with human health applications, and are also highly prized as food products for direct human consumption. This project will also develop protocols for the long-term production and maintenance of vegetative biomass of U. tepida, develop methods to understand and enhance flavour, and tailor production parameters for specific end-product uses of species of Ulva.
The biorefinery program will target the isolation, purification, and applications of value-add products from Ulva ohnoi and Oedogonium intermedium through the biorefinery process. Value-add products include salts, pigments, ulvans (water soluble carbohydrates), carbohydrates (water insoluble), sulfated carbohydrates oligomers and monomers, proteins and specific amino acids. Sulfated polysaccharides from the genus Ulva are valuable carbohydrates present in significant quantities (> 10% dry weight). By selectively extracting, in sequence, water-soluble high-value components (water-soluble ulvans) and enzymatically degrading carbohydrates, proteins can be concentrated for use in high-value nutrition products. Protein concentrates (> 40%) rich in the essential amino acids of methionine and lysine are valuable in human and animal feed concentrates.
This program focuses on the use of green marine macroalgae for the development of algal bioproducts with plant and animal health benefits. Our plant health research is focused on using the green seaweed Ulva ohnoi, for the extraction of compounds with plant growth promoting activities, including sulfated polysaccharides (ulvans), proteins, phytohormones, and trace minerals and vitamins. Our animal health research focuses on using bioproducts produced using freshwater (Oedogonium) and marine (Ulva) macroalgae for algal feeds and algal feed additives, to provide alternative sources of protein and increase immune response in animals.