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Production of Carotenoids from Cultivated Seaweed

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Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB,volume 1261)

Abstract

Cladosiphon (C.) okamuranus, a brown alga endemic to the Nansei Islands, Japan, has been conventionally ingested as food. Nowadays, it is a major aquatic product of the Okinawa Prefecture with an annual production of around 20,000 tons. The life cycle of C. okamuranus comprises the macroscopic sporophyte (algal body) generation and the microscopic gametophyte generation. The germlings in the latter generation can proliferate when floating in seawater. This floating form has been exploited in techniques involved in the commercial production of C. okamuranus seedlings.

Brown algae contain fucoxanthin, a carbonyl carotenoid known to have anticancer, anti-obesity, and antidiabetic effect in addition to the anti-oxidation effect. We found that the fucoxanthin content of cultivated floating form of C. okamuranus discoid germlings becomes up to 50 times that of the mature alga. Since the discoid germlings repeatedly grow like microorganisms, although they are large algae, they are utilized to produce fucoxanthin. We optimize the culture conditions by changing the temperature, light intensity, photoperiod, light wavelength, and nutrient salt conditions for optimal fucoxanthin productivity. The cultivation has been successful to industrial plant scale, culminating in the use of 1 ton of cultivating medium.

In brown algal cells, fucoxanthin is primarily found bound to the photosynthetic pigment–protein complexes known as fucoxanthin–chlorophyll protein (FCP). Consequently cultivated floating form of C. okamuranus also shows high content of FCP. Isolation and characterization of pigments bound to the FCP were determined precisely, and ultrafast spectroscopies were applied to elucidate the photosynthetic function of fucoxanthin bound to the pigment–protein complexes. This cultivation method has also been applied to the other edible brown algae. We found that the optimal cultivation conditions as well as the yields of fucoxanthin and FCP highly depend on the species.

The floating form cultivation was also applied to a large-sized edible green alga, Codium intricatum, which is uniquely producing a carbonyl carotenoid, siphonaxanthin. This has several anti-disease effects and is also a primal photosynthetic pigment which is found bound to photosynthetic antenna complex usually called siphonaxanthin–chlorophyll protein (SCP). We are working on the improvement of productivity, scale-up of production, and development of cultivation technology of new macro algae.

Keywords

  • Fucoxanthin
  • FCP
  • Cultivation
  • Brown algae
  • Siphonaxanthin

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Correspondence to Masahiko Iha .

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Iha, M., Fujii, R. (2021). Production of Carotenoids from Cultivated Seaweed. In: Misawa, N. (eds) Carotenoids: Biosynthetic and Biofunctional Approaches. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 1261. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-7360-6_3

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