Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 1535–1540 | Cite as

From Sir Joseph Banks to the world’s seaweed colloid industry: the discovery of original material and typification of the marine red alga Gloiopeltis tenax

  • Juliet BrodieEmail author
  • George D. Fussey
  • Jo Wilbraham
  • Michael D. Guiry


Specimens of a seaweed sent to Sir Joseph Banks in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century by a collector in China were described as a new species, Fucus tenax, by the English botanist and antiquarian Dawson Turner. This seaweed has been extensively used in Japan, China and Korea as a source of glue and gum and has been more recently employed in a wide range of specialised applications, including the conservation of antiquarian objects. Banks raised with Turner the possibility that similar species in Britain could be used for the extraction of ‘gelatine’. This was a very early recognition of the potential use of marine phycocolloids from seaweeds and ultimately led to a marine hydrocolloid industry with projected wholesale sales in excess of US$1.56 billion in 2014. Specimens of Fucus tenax Turner [the generitype of Gloiopeltis J. Agardh, now Gloiopeltis tenax (Turner) J. Agardh] discovered in the Natural History Museum, London (BM), and the Eton College Natural History Museum (ECNHM) are considered to be the material upon which the descriptions and illustrations published by Turner (Ann Bot 2:376–378, 1806; Typis J 2:72–134, 1808–1809) were based, and a lectotype (BM) and provisional isolectotypes (ECNHM) are designated here to facilitate future molecular studies of species of the genus.


Dawson Turner Fucus tenax Funoran Gloiopeltis tenax Hydrocolloid industry Isolectotype Lectotype Marine phycocolloids Sir Joseph Banks 



We are grateful to Dr. Harris J. ‘Pete’ Bixler (Ingredients Solutions Inc.) for the information in Table 1 on the production and sales of seaweed colloids; Professor Hiroshi Kawai (Kobe University, Japan) for information on unpublished data on the species of Gloiopeltis; Sir Michael Dixon for his ongoing advice regarding the ECNHM Collection; Dr. David Smith, Rebecca Tessier and Roddy Fisher for their work on the ECNHM herbarium and the online catalogue; and Dr. Neil Chambers, Executive Director of the Sir Joseph Banks Archive Project, for his suggestion concerning William Kerr.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliet Brodie
    • 1
    Email author
  • George D. Fussey
    • 2
  • Jo Wilbraham
    • 1
  • Michael D. Guiry
    • 3
  1. 1.Natural History MuseumDepartment of Life Sciences LondonUK
  2. 2.Natural History MuseumEton CollegeWindsorUK
  3. 3.AlgaeBase, Ryan InstituteNational University of Ireland, GalwayGalwayIreland

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