The project combines available knowledge in seaweed biotechnology with reliable eco-friendly tools and methods to scale up current small cultivation seaweed operations. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is contributing to this project by investigating the technical and economic feasibility of producing large and sustainable volumes of high-quality Saccharina latissima (also known as sugar kelp) and Ulva spp. (often called sea lettuce) seaweed biomass. This will be demonstrated in several European regions, to capitalize on the commercial potential of nutrient rich seaweed compounds.
To boost the European Blue Economy by designing high-yielding seaweed cultivation systems. GENIALG aims to increase the production and sustainable exploitation of two high biomass yielding species of European seaweed: the brown alga S. latissima and the green seaweed U. rigida.
The GENIALG cross-sectoral partnership supports an integrated and sustainable approach by:
- Further developing appropriate genomic and post-genomic tools to identify and study genetic and targeted traits able to fulfil industrial needs.
- Providing existing experimental and large-scale seaweed biomass production sites throughout European waters. Involving a large diversity of private companies already positioned in the seaweed sector individually for different applications (texturants, feed, agriculture, bioplastics, pharmaceuticals) in order to strengthen interactions for developing a bio-refinery concept and promote efficient and sustainable exploitation of seaweed biomass.
- Involving a large diversity of private companies already positioned in the seaweed sector individually for different applications (texturants, feed, agriculture, bioplastics, pharmaceuticals) in order to strengthen interactions for developing a bio-refinery concept and promote efficient and sustainable exploitation of seaweed biomass.
- Cover both upstream production and downstream processing of seaweed for manufacturing new algae-based products for the market and will increase the social acceptance of this novel seaweed sector.
- Cultivation: Upstream seaweed production where development of new technologies for germplasm preservation and breeding, cultivation, harvesting and storage will be demonstrated.
- Biorefinery: Development of new methods for downstream processing of seaweeds, including pre-treatment, fractionation, extraction, purification and detailed characterization of defined chemical compounds and polymers, as well as fermentation of left-over sugars to added-value products in a step-by-step manner.
- Social acceptance: Promotion of socio-environmental benefits of seaweed farming and activities to support/encourage dissemination, stakeholder engagement, knowledge transfer, outreach and capacity building will also be decisive to alleviate the current situation in the EU which precludes the accession to new concessions and therefore leads to a lack of space for cultivating seaweeds.
Expected results and impact
The GENIALG cross-sectoral partnership hopes to accomplish the following:
- Deliver a range of diverse seaweed-derived chemical compounds for existing and new applications to meet rising market demand.
- Lead the way in the Blue Biotechnology sector in Europe, while addressing social acceptability and competition for maritime space.
- Strengthen the economic competitiveness of multiple European industries by supporting new jobs, upskilling, growth and investment in the blue economy, while ensuring environmental sustainability.