Genetics and disease of the sugar kelp Saccharina latissima
Saccharina latissima, or sugar kelp, is one of the main candidate species for the large scale cultivation of seaweed in Europe. Traditionally used as a food ingredient and as a source of alginate and iodine, Saccharina is a fast growing and sugar rich species of kelp with the potential to be used as a sustainable and renewable biofuel. Whilst relatively well understood in terms of its distribution, physiology and lifecycle, little is known about the genetic diversity and functional response in S. lattisima.
Our aim is to use a targeted genetic approach to identify key functional genes relating to stress response in S. latissima to help in identifying those strains most suitable for domestication and cultivation.
The first step in our investigation involves mapping the genetic diversity, variability and connectivity of S. latissima across the west coast of Scotland using reduced-representation sequencing to identify discreet populations for further investigation into differential stress response. Those populations will then be characterised phenotypically and in terms of gene response under induced stress to identify key stress response genes and investigate differences in response between populations. Mapping the genetic diversity will also contribute to the greater understanding of genetic resources in wild populations of S. latissima in Scotland and how best to approach conservation of this important foundation species.
The project is part of a larger research initiative called MACROSEA which aims to provide a knowledge platform for the development of industrial macroalgae cultivation in Norway.
Dr Michele Stanley – SAMS
Kjersti Sjotun – University of Bergen
Project and funding
The Research Council of Norway
University of the Highlands and Islands
Demonstrator: Blu Biotech Module – Algal Biotechnology Masters – SAMS
Lecturer and Demonstrator: National Oceanography Centre A-level Summer Schools – University of Southampton
Instructor and Demonstrator: 2nd Year Falmouth Field Course – University of Southampton
Marine Scientist at Benthic Solutions Ltd
2013-2015 - Offshore technician, data analyst and report writer at BSL marine environmental surveyors
2009-2013 MSc Marine Biology, University of Southampton