Hatchery development for commercially important native seaweeds
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Hatchery development for commercially important native seaweeds
Lead organisation: SARDI
Hub members and partners involved: Flinders University, Sea Health Products, Dinko Tuna Farmers, KI Shellfish
Project Category: Innovation Activities
Project summary: 

This project is aligned with the National Seaweed Industry Blueprint. There is an opportunity for rapid expansion of the industry to produce high-value products for domestic and export markets spanning animal feed, fertiliser, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, and to make significant progress on mitigating Australia’s carbon emissions.

One of the major bottlenecks for the development of a seaweed industry in Australia is access to inoculum or seedstock for scaling up of mass cultivation. The need for a seedbank or hatchery with continual improvement of family lines or cultivars and development of disease-free seed stock have been identified as priorities by the industry.

Various hatchery techniques can be implemented to meet the growing demand for high-quality and high-throughput seedstock for land-based and at-sea cultivation systems. These include sporulation, micropropagation and vegetative propagation. Additionally, breeding techniques can be implemented for genetically improved strains through sporulation, ensuring better quality inoculum and enhancing biomass yield, while reducing costs associated with sourcing, transportation and processing of seedstock.

This project has set up a hatchery for commercially important seaweed taxa such as Asparagopsis, Ecklonia, Ulva, Gracillaria and others. The hatchery is developing region-specific genetic lines of seedstock to benefit seaweed farmers operating in different bioregions.

Project components:

  1. Collection of biological material (spores, sorus, vegetative fragments, etc.) from various bioregions for select seaweed taxa
  2. Developing hatchery technology that includes techniques such as tissue culture, vegetative propagation, sporulation and settlement, protoplast technology and others
  3. Evaluating seaweed propagules on at-sea and land-based leases of industry collaborators
  4. Technology transfer to industry collaborators for commercialisation.

Project description: 

Commercial scale seaweed aquaculture requires high throughput of reliable and sustainable supply of inoculum or seedstock cultures. Ready access to inoculum material has been identified as a significant bottleneck and impediment for the growth of this industry. The need for a seedbank or hatchery with continual improvement of family lines and cultivars, development of disease-free seedstock and seedstock adapted to a changing climate has been identified as a priority to develop this industry. A truly collaborative partnership involving three industry and two research partners developed hatchery technology for three commercially important seaweed taxa with the aim to commercialise this technology and develop the seaweed industry in Australia. A Golden kelp (Ecklonia radiata) hatchery is operational with gametophytes and sporophytes from three bioregions in South Australia. Successful grow-out of hatchery reared sporophytes were undertaken in land-based tanks. At-sea trials will also be undertaken at two at-sea aquaculture leases in Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island. Successful techniques for sporulation of Asparagopsis was developed with production of tetrasporophyte cultures. Protoplast regeneration technologies have also been developed and optimised for Ulva, Asparagopsis and Ecklonia as part of this project. The outcomes from this project will contribute to development of a new industry.

Key achievements and results: 

It is envisaged that the outcomes from this work will contribute to the knowledgebase on seaweed hatchery technology, significantly benefitting the Research & Development community as well as commercial entities, providing a renewed impetus in seaweed aquaculture for food, bioactives, feed and industrial applications. This research will facilitate effective micropropagation, vegetative propagation and sporulation techniques for commercially significant marine Rhodophytes, Phaeophytes and Chlorophytes.

Further information:

AgInnovation 5 – Technical report – this report can be obtained by contacting the Project Lead: Sasi Nayar from SA Research and Development Institute