Viewpoint published in New Phytologist
by Charrier B, Abreu MH, Araujo R, Bruhn A, Coates JC, De Clerck O, Katsaros C, Robaina RR, Wichard T.
New Phytologist, 2017 doi: 10.1111/nph.14728. [Epub ahead of print] (OPEN ACCESS)
Macroalgae (seaweeds) are the subject of increasing interest for their potential as a source of valuable, sustainable biomass in the food, feed, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Compared with microalgae, the pace of knowledge acquisition in seaweeds is slower despite the availability of whole-genome sequences and model organisms for the major seaweed groups. This is partly a conse- quence of specific hurdles related to the large size of these organisms and their slow growth. As a result, this basic scientific field is falling behind, despite the societal and economic importance of these
organisms. Here, we argue that sustainable management of seaweed aquaculture requires fundamental understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms controlling macroalgal life cycles – from the production of germ cells to the growth and fertility of the adult organisms – using diverse approaches requiring a broad range of technological tools. This Viewpoint highlights several examples of basic research on macroalgal developmental biology that could enable the step-changes which are required to adequately meet the demands of the aquaculture sector.