The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Connecticut and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences have signed a license agreement for a kelp “germplasm.”
The innovation is a collection of microscopic kelp cells containing more than 1,200 samples isolated and collated by the UConn and WHOI teams. The license agreement will allow Bigelow Laboratory’s National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota to market and distribute the collection for various purposes.
Commenting on the new agreement, WHOI research specialist and germplasm co-developer Scott Lindell said:
“Creating the kelp germplasm collection with associated gene sequences and an annotated reference genome is like having an instruction manual or an open-source road map for crop improvement. The data provided can assist in predicting the capabilities of how well a parent and its offspring will do for specific traits, such as growth rate and heat tolerance.”
While professor emeritus at UConn and WHOI visiting scholar Charles Yarish commented:
“This kelp culture collection will be essential for the preservation of heirloom strains, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration and mariculture. It contains genotype and phenotype profiles offering great starting points as model systems for numerous research possibilities, including optimization of biorefining pipelines, development of new macroalgal products and byproducts, and exploration of macroalgal applications for climate change mitigation.”
Discussing future opportunities, Michael Lomas, the director of the National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota, said:
“Expanding our marine macroalgae holdings is part of our strategic vision as the curators of the United States marine algae germplasm collection to increase support for global algae science. This agreement with UConn and WHOI provides a unique opportunity to diversify our collection and help harness algae’s potential for remarkable scientific discoveries.”