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Research Collaboration Uncovers Mechanisms To Trigger Spore Release For Asparagopsis Seaweed

CH4 Global and NIWA have confirmed the key step that will enable large scale commercial farming of Asparagopsis for methane reduction

Henderson, NV, USA. June 3, 2021: CH4 Global Inc., and its scientific collaborator in New Zealand, The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) are thrilled to announce that their collaboration has solved the largest challenge for the emerging Asparagopsis seaweed aquafarming industry – triggering spore release. This breakthrough now allows the scientific team to trigger spore release “on demand” which is critical to enabling large scale commercial farming of Asparagopsis seaweed – in both tanks and in marine environments.

CH4 Global estimates that the aquaculture of Asparagopsis seaweed could be worth more than NZ$500 million dollars to seaweed farmers in NZ and Australia within seven years, and more than NZ$1 billion dollars by 2030. It will be the first commercially-grown seaweed in these two countries, creating a new high growth industry supporting indigenous and fishing communities far from main centers of economic activity today.

Asparagopsis has been shown to reduce methane emissions in ruminant animals by more than 90percent. However, to quote a recent research paper, “the development of indoor breeding technologies for Asparagopsis spp. are still not fully realised due to a limited understanding of environmental conditions to close the life cycle from the tetrasporophyte to gametophyte phase.”

The team has successfully built upon the largely unrecognized peer-reviewed published work of pioneer seaweed scientists in the 1960’s and 1970’s in uncovering the way to trigger spore release in the laboratory environment.

"Managing life-cycle transitions is the key to unlocking scale in any form of aquaculture. Asparagopsis has a complex lifecycle with three distinct phases, each of which look and behave differently from the others," says Dr Andrew Forsythe, chief scientist for Aquaculture, NIWA. "This breakthrough has identified the set of conditions which trigger a critical transition between one of these, a small free-floating plant, and the next phase; a larger, attached seaweed. By controlling release of these spores, we can now seed and attach them to aquaculture lines, opening up rapid scale-up of in-ocean farming.

“This was the top challenge we needed to solve in order to have a pathway to commercialize aquafarming of Asparagopsis seaweed at scale”, says Dr Steve Meller, CEO and co-founder of CH4 Global. “This result means we can now move forward with the creation of commercial hatcheries to supply marine and land-based aquafarming of Asparagopsis. This now opens up the ability to scale the platform rapidly to enable climate change impact at scale with urgency.”

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