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Sargassum export potential


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Sargassum export potential

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There is potential for Barbados to commercialise and export a special ingredient found in Sargassum seaweed.

Alginate is a substance normally used to make various products including cosmetics, textiles, fodo additives and pharmaceuticals.

A group of undergraduate students participating in the latest McGill University/University of the West Indies (UWI) Barbados Interdisciplinary Tropical Studies 2015 summer programme conducted research where they extracted alginate from Sargassum seaweed cells.

And Sophie Baker, Elena Cabot and Kisa Giebink concluded that the substance “has commercial utility and potential as an export product”.

“Under the guidance and supervision of Dr Srinivasa Popuri from the Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences at UWI, we were able to extract alginate (alginic acid) from dried Sargassum. Alginate is a natural polysaccharide with dietary fibre properties. Alginate is found in the gel bodies of seaweed cells and can be used in a variety of applications,” the researchers noted.

“Commercial production of alginate could greatly benefit the Barbados economy if the extraction procedure can be commercialised and suitable markets found….We were able to extract alginate from Sargassum that has commercial utility and potential as an export product. We hope that these preliminary findings will assist others to purpose the Sargassum that is likely to arrive on the island in increasing volumes.”

The researchers also found that “Sargassum can be readily composted using soiled animal bedding”, “and fresh as a component of potting mixtures”, although they noted “further trials will need to be conducted”.

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