Algae as a resource: Chemical tricks from the sea

ScienceDaily | 7/15/2019 | Staff
shankay (Posted by) Level 3
Now, an international research team has succeeded in analysing and understanding the entire route of degradation of an important polysaccharide. A large number of enzymes is required for this process and now, for the first time, is has been possible to clarify their biochemical function. With this knowledge, it will become possible to use algae as a resource: they can be used for fermentations, to produce valuable types of sugar or, in the future, even be processed towards bioplastics. The overall aim is to achieve an environmentally friendly circular economy in which renewable raw materials are used in as diverse a manner as possible.

The research project was led by the University of Greifswald, in collaboration with TU Wien, the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (Bremen), the University of Bremen, research centre MARUM -- Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (Bremen) and Roscoff Marine Station (France). The results of the research were recently published in the specialist journal Nature Chemical Biology.

People - Instance - Bloom - Coast - Close

For most people, algae usually seem rather unattractive -- for instance, when they proliferate to form a colossal algal bloom near the coast, and in particular close to beaches. However, in future, carpets of algae may be used as a valuable source of material for industry. "In order to use algae, you need to break down the large molecules that they produce into usable individual components," explains Christian Stanetty from the Institute of Applied Synthetic Chemistry at TU Wien. "This is a highly complicated process but, fortunately, we have nature as an example: that's to say, certain bacteria can do this brilliantly."

The international research team deciphered the way the marine bacteria Formosa agariphila degrades the polysaccharide ulvan, which is produced by the algae Ulva in up to 30% of its dry weight. This degradation process is a little chemical magic trick:...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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