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DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2015 15F698 NUIG (UCC, Teagasc) €824,992

Project Title:

Seaweed-Microbe Interactions to enhance bioactive yields for food applications (SMO-BIO)

Project Coordinator:

Dr Dagmar Stengel

Project Abstract

Irish seaweeds are recognised as an important source of valuable bioactives with, e.g., antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic potential for food applications. However, their chemical composition is highly variable, and fluctuates according to environmental influences. More recently, the impacts of biotic (including microbiome) impacts on algal chemical composition and associated bioactivity have been demonstrated but the implications of these impacts on algae used for food applications remain poorly understood. Additionally, storage and processing methodologies influence both directly (e.g. degradation/oxidation processes) and indirectly (through microbe-mediated processes) the food value of algal biomass. This project will assess the role of seaweed-associated bacteria in bioactive production, and potential degradation, and investigate the scope to apply naturally produced enzymes to increase bioactive yields.

Project objectives are to 1) perform for the first-time a characterisation and isolation of bacteria associated with natural Irish seaweeds of food value, 2) evaluate the role of epiphytic bacteria in bioactive production by seaweeds and induced enhancement of bioactive yields, 3) assess the impact of storage and processing conditions on high value compounds in seaweed food species, and 4) assess microbial enzymatic activity with potential applications in bioactive recovery by enzyme-assistant extraction.

This project combines established expertise in seaweed biology (NUI Galway; Stengel), microbial biotechnology (UCC: Dobson; NUI Galway: Fleming) and food science and chemistry (Teagasc Ashtown: Rai). It builds on existing capacity developed under the Marine Beaufort Biodiscovery Discovery Programme ( (and NutraMara, ( as well as recent FIRM-funded projects and a recently funded ERA-net project (Marine Biotechnology) NEPTUNA ( A link between bacterial colonisation, diversity and seaweed functionality, and biochemical composition and related bioactivity will be established for selected seaweed species with recognised value to the Irish seaweed/food industry. Expected project outputs include characterisation of novel seaweed bioactives; processes to enhance bioactive levels and composition, and reduce algal biomass degradation by selecting appropriate storage methodologies; and the development of new applications in bioactive extraction technologies.

Final Report:

Not available yet.