Halymenia durvellei - Production of pigments and high value natural products from a Philippines red seaweed
Globally seaweed production has more than doubled between 2000 – 2014 to around 28 million tonnes annually, worth an estimated 6 million.
The red seaweed Haylmenia durvillei has economically important applications as a human food, and as a natural source of photosynthetic pigments and high quality carrageenan.
The photosynthetic accessory pigments, r-phycoerythrin and r-phycocyanan of H. Durvillei have gained importance as natural colourants in food and cosmetic industries, and as a therapeutic agent for its anti-cancer activity, antioxidant, fluorescent label of cells and macromolecules (immunology, cell biology, flow cytometry) and markers in gel electrophoresis and isoelectric applications.
Lambda carrageenan is a very effective non gelling galactan polysaccharide that has thickening and viscosity enhancing properties and has a wide array of applications especially in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
Natural stocks of H. Durveillei in the Philippines have been substantially depleted by unregulated wild harvesting.
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 Prof. Gavino Trono (Philippine National Scientist).
Proprietary processing and extraction technology has been developed by Prof. ‘Coke’ Montano – University of Philippines.
Funding to date
In 2014 Plentex assisted the University of the Philippines, Marine Environment & Resources Foundation Inc. (MERF) in obtaining US AID STRIDE grant for 1 year funding of Php 4 million (A$110k). This was extended by a further Php 4 million grant in September 2015.
PPI was the nominated commercial partner for the purpose of the STRIDE grant applications and carried on this role during the research programmes. PPI signed MOU’s with MERF and Profs. Trono and Montano respectively in September 2016, and PPI’s affiliate, Plentex Aqua-Farms Corporation (PAC) signed an exclusive Technology License Agreement with the University of Philippines in March 2018 with worldwide commercialisation rights.
PAC is 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.
- The development of commercial scale extraction processes for the production of phycobilin pigments and lambda-like carrageenan