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Seaweed may help clean the oceans

by Selwyn Bergman
on 14 May 2008
Oceanography SA
Oceanography SA

A collaborative study by Chinese and Japanese researchers has shown that bacteria feeding on seaweed could help rid the ocean of organic pollutants.

The study was published in Inderscience Publishers' Journal of Biotechnology, and conducted by scientists at the univerisities of Kobe (Japan), Shimane (Japan) and Nankai (China).

The researchers point out that various types of seaweed are able to extract toxic compounds in seawater and one species, Undaria Pinnatifida or wakame, in particular has been the focus of reasearch in this regard for nearly a decade. Wakame is known to thrive even in the prescence of carbon, ammonium, nitrate and phosphate - in seawater that would otherwise be devoid of life.

However, once the wakame has absorbed the pollutants, it is regarded as being toxic itself, and disposal thereof presents a problem. A simple solution to this came about through wakame being used as a fertilizer since ancient times. The research team has now found a highly efficient way of accelerating the composting process by using the bacteria that feed on the wakame. They further tested the effectiveness of the composted wakame on germination of plants.

Further Reading:
Article Abstract: Disposal of seaweed wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) in composting process by marine bacterium Halomonas sp. AW4
Wakame waste
Cleaning Up The Oceans With Wakame Waste
Marine Pollution Control by Seaweed Planting and Composting

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