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9th International Seaweed Conference

"Seaweeds: supporting the European Green Deal"

24 - 25 SEPTEMBER 2020

Alexander Ebbing,
Senior scientist, Hortimare, NL

"Kelp breeding in Europe. Where do we stand, the challenges, and how do we move forward"

About the speaker: 
Alexander is a marine biologist and seaweed pioneer with almost a decade of experience in both applied and fundamental seaweed sciences. He started at Hortimare setting up laboratories and seaweed farms along the North Western coast of Europe. During this period he got himself acquainted with building, farming and maintaining these seaweed farms. His scientific work at Hortimare primarily revolved around the development of Hortimare’s breeding program of kelps and the propagation of clone gametophytes. After 4 years he began his PhD at NIOZ, supervised by Prof. Dr. Timmermans, delving deeper into kelp gametogenesis, process optimization, and ultimately the domestication of kelp. During this period he earned a personal scientific grant by the Dutch government for the development of the first ever continues bioreactor, specifically designed for kelp gametophytes. He successfully delivered a fully functioning system a year later that is now in the process of publication.

Company info:

NWO-NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research is the Dutch national oceanographic institute and principally performs and promotes academically excellent multidisciplinary fundamental and frontier applied marine research, addressing important scientific and societal questions pertinent tot the functioning of oceans and seas. 

Hortimare is breeding and propagating seaweed for the seaweed industry globally. Hortimare is the supplier of high quality starting material that enables seaweed farmers to harvest good yields. Hortimare advices, supports, and collaborates closely with seaweed farmers in order for them to expand and scale up to essential volumes to make seaweed a competitive alternative for land-based products. 


Upscaling kelp production will be a major challenge in the coming years of kelp aquaculture. A strong foundation is hereby needed, built upon reliability, before large scale kelp aquaculture can really take off. This strong foundation starts with the reliable propagation of kelp gametophytes, that can be used as both seed stock as well as the starting point for breeding programs. More importantly, understanding gametophyte reproduction is understanding how to control kelp, bringing us a step closer towards crop domestication. 


Gametophyte reproduction can be regulated using lifecycle controls. These controls are (a)biotic environmental factors that either halt or induce sexual reproduction in kelp gametophytes. A further understanding in these controls is needed before the breeding for large scale aquaculture becomes feasible. The better you understand how gametophytes behave, the further you can optimize the efficiency of the production process, reducing costs considerable. This also means that we need to quantify the lifecycle control differences between kelp species, and even localities. 


What does it mean to domesticate kelp? Why is understanding gametophyte reproduction the gateway to fully domesticate kelp as a crop? Are lifecycle controls genus-, species-, or even locality specific? Here we want to show you the state of the art in kelp breeding and our road forward, using recently published work as starting points on our path towards large scale kelp aquaculture in Europe. 


Kelp, Breeding, Gametophytes, Lifecycle controls


Ebbing et al., 2020; How light and biomass density influence the reproduction of delayed Saccahrina latissima gametophytes (Phaeophyceae)