Use of the Economically Important Seaweed, Porphyra, as a Bioremediation Tool for Effluent From Fish Farming

EPA Grant Number: FP916331
Title: Use of the Economically Important Seaweed, Porphyra, as a Bioremediation Tool for Effluent From Fish Farming
Investigators: Blouin, Nicolas A.
Institution: University of Maine
EPA Project Officer: Just, Theodore J.
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006
Project Amount: $71,112
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Oceanography and Coastal Processes , Academic Fellowships , Aquatic Ecosystems


I am investigating aspects of the reproductive ecology and large-scale culture of the locally common red algal genus Porphyra. This seaweed has a biphasic life history that alternates between a commercially valuable macroscopic blade (commonly called ‘nori’) and a microscopic phase that lives in the shells of marine organisms. This life history is often “short-circuited” in nature, whereby the blade gives rise directly to another blade stage through an asexual pathway. The environmental cues for control of this asexual pathway are not known. The objective of my research is to elucidate these cues. It is my belief that knowledge of the cues for asexual reproduction could result in the ability to exploit a naturally occurring phenomenon and result in persistent blade crops throughout the year. Although Porphyra has been cultivated in Asia for several centuries, it has never been successfully grown in the United States though it is a native genus here. Porphyra cultivation near finfish farms could significantly reduce the amount of eutrophication from finfish farming while providing another valuable crop and jobs. Development of successful, regional, integrated mariculture will help to ensure coastal water quality and provide a model that would be useful in other areas of the country.


Native Porphyra seed stock will be developed to seed nets for growout in coastal waters. Net cultures will be placed for growout in association with salmon pens and also in areas where there is no fishing activity (control group). Levels of nutrients in the water and in Porphyra in both locations will be monitored. The effects of bioremediation will be assessed, and the density of seaweed culture to fish biomass and effects of water motion will be analyzed. I will replicate this experiment in a number of pen and control sites.

I expect to find that there are increased growth rates in the Porphyra nets grown near finfish aquaculture sites as opposed to those grown where there is no fish farming activity. This would be an indication that Porphyra effectively remove inputs and is an effective sequestering mechanism for nutrients evolved from fish farming activity.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, red algae, Porphyra , bioremediation, water quality, fish farming, nutrients,, Scientific Discipline, Waste, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Treatment Technologies, Oceanography, Bioremediation, Ecology and Ecosystems, aquatic ecosystem, plant-based remediation, coastal ecosystem, seaweed, Porphyra, aquatic plants, fish farming effluent, phytoremediation

Relevant Websites:

2004 STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference Poster (PDF, 1p., 129KB, about PDF)