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Selection and Distribution of New Strains of Kappaphycus Alvarezii Developed from Spores of Local Wild Populations to Restore Seaweed Farming Productivity in the Philippines

Funding Agency: GCRF Global Seaweed STAR

Lead Researchers: Michael Y. Roleda, Dr.rer.nat., Irene Rodriguez, Dr.rer.nat.

Researchers: Flora Maye Palecpec, Bea Crisostomo, Lourie Hinaloc,

Bienson Narvarte, Shienna Mae Gonzaga

Restoring Seaweed Farming Productivity in the Philippines Through Selection and Distribution of Kappaphycus alvarezii

Seaweed farming has been a great success in developing countries for decades. It supports women’s participation across the seaweed supply chain through their involvement from production, post-harvest, and marketing. Increased yields associated with improved cultivars and reduced impact from climate-related diseases contributes to an increase in income of marginalized small-scale fishers, which has one of the highest incidences of poverty in the Philippines. Seaweed farming started in the Philippines in the 1970s and eventually became the primary source of raw material to supply the global demand for carrageenan. Since then, Kappaphycus and Eucheuma, two of the highest commercially valued and the most sought-after seaweed crops, was farmed for carrageenan using Philippine strains and cultivars throughout the tropics.

However, after decades of successful farming with high growth rates, carrageenan yield, and quality, they are now observed be more susceptible to diseases, not only affecting yield and quality of the harvest but the farming industry as well. In this regard, there is an urgent need to generate new seedstocks/ cultivars from the wild populations with superior quality compared to the old, farmed cultivars to sustain livelihoods of thousands of small-scale farmers and the seaweed industry.

The project “Selection and distribution of new strains of Kappaphycus alvarezii developed from spores of local wild populations to restore seaweed farming productivity in the Philippines” led by the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines Diliman aimed to contribute to the sustainability of the seaweed industry through the development and production of high-performing cultivars that will help stakeholders maintain a stable production in the short term and an increase in production in the long term. The general objective of the project was to generate new seedstock/cultivar of superior quality grown from spores of wild Kappaphycus alvarezii.

This will primarily benefit seaweed farmers who will require lesser investment for similar or higher production that will improve their standards of living. The seaweed industry will also be guaranteed a continuous supply of large volumes of high-quality biomass for extraction and product development to support the growing demand for seaweed extracts for diverse applications.

The project helped foster synergy between different stakeholders-- seaweed farmers, the industry, and the academe - through the GCRF Global Seaweed STAR programme. This initiative was designed to develop the research and innovation capability of developing countries engaged in seaweed farming.

The project also initiated further collaboration between the UP Marine Science Institute, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Eastern Visayan (Region 8).

List of Publications:

Hinaloc LAR, Roleda MY (2021) Phenotypic diversity, growth and sexual differentiation in the progeny of wild Kappaphycus alvarezii (Gigartinales, Florideophyceae). Phycologia 60:547– 557. Narvarte BCV, Genovia TGT, Hinaloc LAR, Roleda MY (2022) Growth, nitrate uptake kinetics and biofiltration potential of eucheumatoids with different thallus morphologies. Journal of Phycology 58:12–21. Schmidtchen L, Roleda MY, Majschak JP, Mayser M (2022) Processing technologies for solid and flexible packaging materials from macroalgae. Algal Research 61: 102300.


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