is being investigated as a source of pigments and other high-value natural products.
The red seaweed Halymenia durvillei
is an economically important, natural source of red and blue phycobilin pigments extensively used in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food industries and lambda-like carrageenan widely used as a thickening, gelling agent or stabilizer in the food industry and a useful dietary supplement for curing allergic reactions.
Natural stocks of H. durvillei in the Philippines have been depleted and harvesting of natural stocks is illegal. Thus cultivation of this seaweed is important for the sustainable utilisation of this high value resource.
Proprietary culture technology for the biomass production of H. durvillei
has been developed by co-investigator, Prof. Gavino Trono (Philippine National scientist). Proprietary processing and extraction technology has been developed by Prof. (Coke) Montano – University of the Philippines.
Plentex, as nominated commercial partner, assisted the University of the Philippines, Marine Environment & Resources Foundation Inc . (MERF) in obtaining a US AID STRIDE grant for 1 year funding of PhP 4 million (AUD110k). This has been extended by further PhP 4 million grant which occurred in September 2015.
PPI has signed Memoranda of Understanding with MERF and Professors Trono and Montano respectively and is proceeding to negotiate worldwide commercialisation rights. PPI and Profs Trono and Montano are now focusing on:
- Commercial scale biomass production by scaling up laboratory studies into pilot-scale growing of H. durvillei biomass using vegetative propagules and spores
- Commercial scale extraction processes for the production of phycobilin pigments and lambda-like carrageenan.