Tropical Seaweed Potentials attracting Various Application Research

Seaweeds (marine macroalgae) are one of the fundamental primary producers in coastal marine ecosystems and are supporting the food web through photosynthesis. Seaweeds have been globally receiving attention from many industrial areas because they have various potentials of commercialization. Brunei Darussalam has a rich diversity of marine life but the diversity of seaweeds and their potentials of application have not been studied comprehensively. Dr. Yasuaki Tanaka (Faculty of Science, UBD) initiated a seaweed project in 2017, aiming to discover Bruneiโ€™s seaweed diversity and to evaluate their application potentials in collaboration with other researchers. This research project is funded by a CRG grant, entitled โ€˜The diversity of seaweeds in Brunei Darussalam and the search for useful substances toward commercializationโ€™.

The project started from exploring extensive coastal zones of Brunei and could discover 43 seaweed species so far. The highest diversity was observed at Pulau Punyit, an offshore rocky island at Jerudong, indicating the importance of conservation and further exploration around the island.

Using collected seaweeds, various applications of seaweeds are now being evaluated by collaborators. Dr. Faizah Metali and Dr. Lim Lee Hoon (Faculty of Science) analyse the composition of mineral nutrients and heavy metals in seaweeds. Dr. Hussein Taha and Dr. Norhayati Ahmad (Faculty of Science) investigate the anti-oxidant and anti-microbial activities of seaweeds. These analyses would be useful to evaluate its nutritional value as food, supplements, or fertilizers. Dr. Anwar Usman (Faculty of Science) is attempting to extract carrageenan for the development of encapsulation techniques.

Seaweeds are also used as a biofilter to clean water in aquaculture because they are capable to absorb nutrients from the ambient water. Students under the supervision of Dr. Tanaka are looking for which species would be most suitable to clean wastewaters from Bruneiโ€™s aquaculture system.

Text & photos by: Dr Yasuaki Tanaka, UBD (yasuaki.tanaka@ubd.edu.bn)