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HOME > Theme > Theme3 Research and development for the creation of highly functional resources harnessing biological characteristics of mega-benthos
Theme3 Research and development for the creation of highly functional resources harnessing biological characteristics of mega-benthos
Research theme leader: Kazuo Miyashita, Professor, Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University
The sea—a treasure box of resources
As you know, Japan is not a big country and much of its land is mountainous, leaving only small portions of land for cultivation. On the other hand, its coast line is the 6th longest in the world and is therefore a very important resource for the country. The coastal environment is greatly influenced by the land behind it; abundant forests and clean rivers would create diverse bio-resources with excellent functions. The Hakodate area satisfies these conditions. In our research, we will develop technologies for making the best of the functions of marine organisms to effectively use coastal resources of the area and to develop local industries. We will also propose ideal methods for coastal biological environment conservation and the sustainability of marine resource utilization.
(1) What seaweeds can do
Algae can absorb CO2 from their entire plant body, and their energy efficiency is 10 times as high as terrestrial plants.
The amount of CO2 absorbed and used by forests, including rainforests, accounts for 41% of the earth’s total, whereas that by marine plants (i.e., algae) accounts for 59% (Battle M. et al. Science, 287, 31 (2000)).
The coastal area of Hakodate is rich with nutrients (organic and inorganic matters). Therefore, algae are able to keep producing valuable ingredients through photosynthesis.
Mega-benthos, using algae such as seaweeds, also produce useful substances.
(2) Use of the “excellent properties” produced by seaweeds as materials
The “excellent properties” include the following:
Fucoxanthin, a pigment found in seaweeds, reduces visceral fat and blood sugar level. These functions have been scientifically proven (absorbability, metabolic dynamics, nutrigenomics analysis). No terrestrial organisms produce such pigments.
Fucoxanthin
Algae also contain various useful substances such as ω-3 unsaturated fatty acid, polyphenol, fucosterol and dietary fiber, qualifying themselves as excellent food materials.
Algae also contain a substance that is a material of biopolymer and can therefore be a sustainable source of materials that do not rely on food and oil resources.
(3) Is it OK to use a lot of algae?
We, in collaboration with other research subjects, always think about how coastal bio-resources can be used plentifully and sustainably.
Coastal resources, including algae, can be protected by using the “excellent properties” produced from CO2 absorbed by algae in a way that does not destroy the biological environment. Resources will deteriorate without human interventions.
By using coastal resources cleverly, fish and other organisms that use algae as a “cradle” can grow well.
褐藻海藻

Algae have various beneficial effects on the environment by absorbing CO2.
Algae have various beneficial effects on the environment by absorbing CO2.

Seaweed pigments have beneficial effects.
Seaweed pigments have beneficial effects.

Various materials can be extracted form algae.
Various materials can be extracted form algae.
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