Large seaweeds have long been widely used for both food and industrial products. Edible uses vary widely. Seaweeds such as wakame and nori are eaten and enjoyed by themselves, while kelp is used as a broth to add depth to dishes. Seaweed is also used as a thickening agent for foods and as plaster for castle walls because of its high content of highly viscous polysaccharides.
There are more than 1,500 kinds of seaweeds living around Japan alone, but we usually eat only a few kinds, and many of them are of low utilization. We are searching for new and effective ways to utilize such seaweeds by finding species that contain many useful components. In addition, aquaculture technology is indispensable for their utilization. The life history of seaweeds varies from simple to complex and unknown.
Among them, we conduct research in a wide range of areas, including the exploration of new components, development of utilization methods, understanding of functional properties, development of analytical methods, and elucidation of maturation mechanisms. This course introduces some of those studies.
Toward unutilized resources red algae dulse and its effective utilization
Local Resources in Southern Hokkaido
Located in the northern part of Japan, Hokkaido is home to a variety of seaweeds that grow in the frigid zone and are not found in Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and other parts of Japan. The most common seaweed in the southern region of Hokkaido is kelp, but when kelp fishing is not in season, there are a variety of seaweeds on cultivated ropes. For example, during the cold winter months, red algae dulse grows in dense clusters on the ropes. In the 2000s, the city of Hakodate began to revitalize the local community by using gagaemekombu as a means of revitalizing the city. This effort was introduced in numerous newspapers and on television, and gagome has become a national brand.
The Faculty of Fisheries at Hokkaido University wondered if it would be possible to make effective use of unused resources in southern Hokkaido. We focused on red algae dulse as a new resource. We are engaged in daily research and education to clarify the ecology, nutritional components, health functionality, and utilization of dulse. Here we introduce some of those studies.