Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


What are you eating? NZ scientists reclassify nori


What are you eating? NZ scientists reclassify nori – the seaweed used to make sushi

It may be nori, but not as we knew it. Scientists have changed the taxonomy of one of the most well-known red seaweeds in the world – known as nori in Japanese and karengo in Maori.

This recent breakthrough was possible as a result of investigations that looked at closely related species worldwide and discovered new seaweed genera.

“The scientific name that it has been known by has changed. The seaweed you are eating is probably not classified as Porphyra anymore,” says NIWA Principal Scientist Dr Wendy Nelson.

Nori and closely related species are highly prized worldwide, as they are harvested from the wild and also farmed for food. These seaweeds are found in the intertidal and subtidal areas of the world’s oceans.

The discovery is very important to breeding programmes central to the multi-billion dollar Asian seaweed aquaculture industry, where researchers are looking for genes that might be of value for enhancing crops. The annual value of the crop is over USD $1.4 billion. This breakthrough took 15 years of research work. “It has fundamentally changed our understanding of how these things relate to each other,” says Dr Nelson.

It clarifies the genetic relationships between different types of seaweed. “In the past, people have tried to cross species that we now know belong to different genera,” says Dr Nelson.

Dr Nelson, and an international team of experts, including fellow New Zealander, Dr Judy Sutherland, have been looking closely at related red algae, using genetic sequencing to get new insights. “We described four new genera, Dione, Minerva, Clymene and Lysithea” says Dr Nelson.

This work was done using phylogenetic analysis - extracting DNA and comparing genes. “We made the breakthrough when we combined data from the worldwide data set,” says Dr Nelson. The discovery is also important for our understanding of evolution and biodiversity.

The Bangiales, the order to which these edible seaweed belong, is considered to be a really ancient lineage. “There is a fossil that is 1.2 billion years old that is very similar in appearance to a species alive today,” says Dr Nelson.

“In this order of red algae, there used to be filaments and blades. All the filaments had been called Bangia, and all the blades called Porphyra, but when we looked more closely, we realised that this didn’t reflect the genetic data,” says Dr Nelson.

The scientists have come up with a multigeneric classification for the Bangiales. The name Porphyra has been maintained for the lineage containing the Northern Hemisphere type P. purpurea (Roth) C. Agardh. The two most commercially important species (Porphyra tenera, P. yezoensis) are in the largest new genus Pyropia.

Seaweed has been harvested for food in China from at least 550AD and in Japan as early as 1000AD. New Zealand has around 850 native seaweeds, a third of which are endemic. Māori traditionally use species of red and green seaweed as food. Customary harvest of some seaweed species by Māori has continued, and is recognised in legislation.

In New Zealand we now realise that there are more than 30 different species of karengo, belonging to four different genera, and many of these species still do not have scientific names.

This research was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: Alex Swney Pleads Guilty To $2.5M Fraud Charge

Alex Swney, former chief executive of the Auckland city centre business association Heart of the City, has pleaded guilty to dishonestly using documents to obtain $2.5 million. More>>

ALSO:

Petrol Burns Prices: Second Consecutive Quarterly Fall For CPI

The consumers price index (CPI) fell 0.3 percent in the March 2015 quarter, following a 0.2 percent fall in the December 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. The last time the CPI showed two consecutive quarterly falls was in the December 1998 and March 1999 quarters. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Broadcasters Launch Battle Against Global Mode ISPs

New Zealand broadcasters have confirmed they’ve launched legal proceedings against internet service providers who give customers’ access to “global mode”, which allows customers access to offshore online content, claiming it breaches the local content providers’ copyright. More>>

ALSO:

Sanford: Closure Of Christchurch Mussel Processing Plant Confirmed

The decision comes after a period of consultation with the 232 staff employed at the Riccarton site, who were told on 9 April that Sanford was considering the future of mussel processing in Christchurch. Recent weather patterns had impacted on natural spat (offspring) supply... More>>

ALSO:

Price Of Cheese: Dairy Product Prices Fall To The Lowest This Year

Dairy product prices fell in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, hitting the lowest level in the 2015 auctions so far, as prices for milk powder and butter slid amid concern about the outlook for commodities. More>>

ALSO:

Houston, We Have An Air Route: Air New Zealand To Fly Direct To The Heart Of Texas

Air New Zealand will fly its completely refitted Boeing 777-200 aircraft between Auckland and Houston up to five times a week opening up the state of Texas as well as popular nearby tourist states such as Louisiana and Florida. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Reserve Bank’s Spencer Calls On Govt To Rethink Housing Tax

The Reserve Bank has urged the government to take another look at a capital gains tax on investment in housing, allow increased high-density development and cut red tape for planning consents to address an over-heated Auckland property market. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news