University of Alaska Southeast
Control of egg production in Alaskan kelps
The artificial culture of seaweeds has been of interest in Alaska since the 1980s. Originally the interest lay in the culture of the giant kelp (Macrocystis) as a substrate for the herring roe-on-kelp because there was some concerns about overharvesting the natural kelp and concerns about the high costs of transporting the kelp from where it grows in SE Alaska to the Prince William Sound fishery.
Subsequently there has been interest in growing kelp for use as a plant fertilizer enhancer. Mike Mortell of Point Baker has been harvesting kelp for this purpose for several years, but obtaining a harvest permit has been problematical due to the lack of information about the biology of the kelps.
Now there is renewed interest in using kelp and other seaweeds as feed for abalone culture. This is a promising new area of aquaculture in Alaska. But, again, obtaining harvest permits for the wild kelp may be difficult to obtain as ADF&G has no resources to monitor such harvests.
Knowledge of the kelp life cycle is critical for successful propagation and culture of the species. We know that certain conditions are necessary for the kelps to complete their life cycle. One essential nutrient is iron. Without iron in the water, the kelps are unable to produce eggs for starting the next generation. Our proposed research will investigate the role of iron in ovogenesis. We are using a radioactive tracer to attempt to find the cellular location of the iron activation sites as well as attempt to find iron-binding proteins that mediate the formation of the eggs. This research will help us to understand how to control the life cycle of these kelps in a more effective manner.
Data and Resources
Start Date: 2012/09/01