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Tepak researching ‘sea lettuce’ as food source

sea lettuce

The Cyprus University of Technology (Tepak) is participating in research to develop oceanic coastal shores as a source of alternative sustainable food sources.

Building on the successes of previous EU and pan-European projects on seaweeds, a team of 105 experts from 28 countries, including Tepak, are looking into the scientific and economic perspective of a green algae called genus Ulva (Linnaeus, 1753), also known as ‘sea lettuce’.

The research proposes “the modernisation of our traditional diet by the sea that aims to exploit the potential of marine macroalgae in Europe” through a new programme of European Cooperation in Science and Technology, Cost Action.

“We have identified these green algae as the most suitable candidate and model organism for a novel kind of European mariculture,” the official website of Cost said.

Much of the knowledge on Ulva, generated in diverse scientific disciplines and different communities, is not easily comparable nor is it shared among scientists, stakeholders, end users and the public, it was added.

“Algae aquaculture is a growing part of global food production and offers a number of opportunities for mitigation and adaptation to climate change…by absorbing and ‘locking in’ huge amounts of carbon dioxide – CO2. They can help adapt to climate change, reducing the effects of ocean acidification,” the Cost announcement said.

“Our main challenge is to promote a green economy based on the use of algae within the European Community and beyond,” said Olympia Nisiforou, the Cyprus representative in the management committee of action.

This Cost Action proposes an innovative conceptual pathway to address these issues, significantly improving knowledge in the biology of the most promising Ulva, capitalising on their economic potential, and exploring commercial applications in the human food, animal feed, pharmaceutical industries and ecosystem service.

It combines interdisciplinary approaches to the sustainable use of marine resources, encompassing all the facets of Ulva biology, ecology, aquaculture, engineering, economic and social sciences. This Action will lead to the development of advanced science, create business and job opportunities in the maritime and coastal economies, and have a significant impact on societal welfare.

For more information on the Cost Action programme, contact the Cyprus representatives, Dr Olympia Nisiforou ([email protected]) or Associate Professor Alexandros Charalambidis ([email protected]).

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