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Feb 02, 2024

In a talk organized by the municipality and with the participation of researchers from the Andrés Bello University and the Milenio SECOS Institute, possible alternative uses for the available biomass from the so-called “green tide” were presented, the proliferation of algae that affects more than a decade to the inhabitants, artisanal fishermen and tourism on the beaches of the commune.


Known as “green tides”, the excessive proliferation of green algae of the Ulva genus has become a global phenomenon that has increased in frequency in recent years. In Algarrobo Bay, an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the Millennium Institute in Coastal Socio-Ecology (SECOS) with the support of universities and other study centers, has focused on studying this problem from its various areas, in order to understand the possible causes. , the oceanographic conditions of the place, the considerations in the management of biomass, and even its possible use.


The situation that has been reported in the area for at least 12 years has become a socio-ecological problem, has significantly deteriorated the conditions of the beaches, affected tourism, artisanal fishing and extraction of benthic resources and has forced the municipality to take measures such as removing the algae using heavy machinery. Thus, in order to explore alternatives that provide added value to the available algal biomass that invades the beaches of Algarrobo, part of the team of researchers from the Laboratory of Ecology and Molecular Biology of Algae (LEBMA) of the UNAB and the Milenio Institute in Coastal Socio-Ecology (SECOS), gave a talk to municipal officials.


“We have determined that one of the most abundant species of these green tides, Ulva stenophylloides, has a high concentration of antioxidant molecules, such as phenols, among others. Also a high yield of biomass to obtain a polysaccharide called Ulvano, which has various proven uses in human and animal health and in the generation of biomaterials,” explains Dr. Loretto Contreras, researcher at LEBMA-UNAB and SECOS.


The researcher highlighted the biotechnological potential relevant to the industry and little studied of the species with the greatest presence in proliferation, aiming to propose joint and collaborative actions with other actors, which include the community, artisanal fishermen, companies that require biomass. , and the academy. “In addition, biomass can be used as a biofilter in drinking water with high concentrations of arsenic, given its bioaccumulation capabilities. It is necessary to develop new value chains and business models, to go from a costly activity to a profitable one. Therefore, collaborative work is necessary in various dimensions,” adds Contreras. other local and global factors.

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