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Modern Uses Of Cultivated Algae Essay

1611 words - 6 pages

Modern Uses of Cultivated Algae

Algae are a "group of plants" that dominate the aquatic environment (Raymount, 1984). Organisms that make up the algae include representatives from three kingdoms and seven divisions: cyanochloranta and prochorophyta (from Kingdom Monera), pyrrhophyta, chrysophyta, phaeophyta, and rhodophyta (from Kingdom Protista), and chlorophyta (from Kingdom Plantae). All seven divisions are called algae because of a lack of roots, stems, and leaves; and most algal cells are fertile. The basic metabolic processes are located in the individual cell and all lack the xylem/phloem transport system of "higher plants". These different plant-like organisms have been used for human food and animal follage.

The "macroalgae", usually referred to as seaweed, have been commercially cultured for over 300 years (Tseng, 1981). Representatives of macroalgae include red, brown, and green algae. Most people in the United States ingest red or brown algae products everyday in chocolate milk, toothpaste, candy, cosmetics, ice creams, salad dressing, and many other household and industrial products (McCoy, 1987). Macroalgae are rich in protein, carbohydrates, amino acids, trace elements, and vitamins (Waaland, 1981).
Historically, records have established that people collected seaweeds for food beginning 2,500 years ago in China (Tseng, 1981). European peoples have collected seaweeds for food for 500 years. Today, only in the Far East are macroalgae eaten directly in large quantities as food by humans.

Of the macroalgae, the most widely consumed throughout the world has been the membranaceous red alga Porphora. This algae is called "Nori", "amanori" or "hoshinori" in Japan and "purple laver" in the West. This one genera of red algae represents the largest tonnage aquacultural product in the world (McCoy, 1987) and was the first marine macroalgae to be cultivated by man. Nori has been grown in Tokyo Bay for nearly 300 years (Lobban et al, 1985).

Nori is eaten directly in soups or as a vegetable or used as a condiment. The Japanese grow over 500,000 tons of Nori per year and consume over 100,000 tons directly per year. The Nori industry in Japan employs over 60,000 people and is estimated to support over 300,000 people (McCay, 1987). The Chinese also have a very large Nori industry but no estimation on the number of employees have been given. Major commercial centers for Nori include Marinan Islands, Saipan, and Guam. However, the world's largest and most technically-advanced Nori farms are facilities in the Philippines (McCoy, 1987).

Nori is also eaten in Europe, mainly in salads. The algae has also been fried in fat, boiled, and even baked into bread. The British used to seal the fresh algae in barrels for use as food by whaling crews (Lerman, 1986). In the United States, Nori is commonly found in health food stores. Nori is also used in the preparation of sushi. The algae is wrapped around the raw seafood and rice...

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