Crude fucoidan content in two North Atlantic kelp species, Saccharina latissima and Laminaria digitata - seasonal variation and impact of environmental factors

Annette Bruhn, Tina Janicek, Dirk Martin Manns, Mette Møller Nielsen, Thorsten Johannes Skovbjerg Balsby, Anne S. Meyer, Michael Bo Rasmussen, Xiaoru Hou, Bodo Saake, Cordula Göke, Anne-Belinda Bjerre

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Fucoidans are sulphated fucose-rich polysaccharides predominantly found in the cell walls of brown algae. The bioactive properties of fucoidans attract increasing interest from the medico-pharmaceutical industries and may drive an increase in demand of brown algae biomass. In nature, the biochemical composition of brown algae displays a seasonal fluctuation driven by environmental factors and endogenous rhythms. To cultivate and harvest kelps with high yields of fucoidans, knowledge is needed on seasonal variation and impact of environmental conditions on the fucoidan content of brown algae. The relations between the fucoidan content and key environmental factors (irradiance, nutrient availability, salinity and exposure) were examined by sampling natural populations of the common North Atlantic kelps, Saccharina latissima and Laminaria digitata, over a full year at Hanstholm in the North Sea and Aarhus in the Kattegat. In addition, laboratory experiments were carried out isolating the effects of the single factors. The results demonstrated that (1) seasonal variation alters the fucoidan content by a factor of 2–2.6; (2) interspecific differences exist in the concentrations of crude fucoidan (% of dry matter): L. digitata (11%) > S. latissima (6%); and (3) the effects of single environmental factors were not consistent between species or between different conspecific populations. The ambiguous response to single environmental factors complicates prospective directions for manipulating an increased content of fucoidan in a cultivation scenario and emphasizes the need for knowledge on performance of local kelp ecotypes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)3121-3137
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science
  • Cultivation
  • Ecotypes
  • Exposure
  • Irradiance
  • Laminariales
  • Nutrients
  • Salinity
  • Storage carbohydrates

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