The biorefinery program for Ulva will target the isolation, purification, and applications of value-add products from Ulva ohnoi 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 development and optimization 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 quantify the nutritional and potential health effects of the consumption of Ulva, 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.
Fertilisers and biostimulants
This program focuses on the use of marine green macroalgae for the development of liquid extracts with plant biostimulant properties. Initial work on biomass feedstock has focused on the green seaweed Ulva ohnoi, while future work will target the genera Ulva and Derbesia for the extraction of compounds with biostimulant and plant growth regulator activities. These include sulfated polysaccharides (ulvans), proteins, phytohormones, trace minerals and vitamins.
This program focuses on the use of freshwater and marine macroalgae as algal feeds and algal feed additives for animal production systems. Through this research, we are developing products from Oedogonium and Ulva to provide alternative sources of protein and increase immune response in animals. Oedogonium biomass produced from the treatment of waste water has a diverse elemental profile, high energy potential, high lipid content and a high quality amino acid profile establishing Oedogonium as a potential feed supplement for ruminants and as a complete feed for herbivorous fish. The ulvans extracted from Ulva increase the immune response in fish and prawns (shrimp), and have the potential to improve disease resistance and survival.
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.