Within the Danish project MAB4 local seaweeds are selected and cross-bred for the best result regarding shape and content. The aim of the cultivation is to ensure optimal Danish supply to the biorefinery processes which are developed. Through this cultivation natural populations will remain intact, as only local species and ecotypes are used.
The species sugarkelp (Saccharina latissima) is selected from local populations and used to breed faster growing and higher yield obtaining seaweed biomass containing the right properties and contents (for example higher sugar/protein content) for the biorefinery processes. By using local sugarkelp populations it is ensured that no foreign invasive species are introduced within the cultivation area, which is located near Grenaa and within the Limfjorden. Furthermore, by using local ecotypes of sugarkelp further introduction of foreign genes within the local population is prevented. Both these preventions ensure the local populations of sugarkelp are not damaged in any way by cultivation of this species.
The techniques used to breed the sugarkelp are derived from classical selection and breeding techniques, starting with the natural population and selecting individual sugarkelps with good properties, such as high growth rate and high specific component content like proteins, specific sugars and bio-active ingredients. From these individuals the seedlings for the next generation of cultivated seaweed are produced. After a growing season of 6-8 months the seaweeds will have grown out to mature individuals after which the process starts over with the selection of cultivated sugarkelps with favourable properties. By doing this process for several generations you will end up with a sugarkelp breed with specific traits required for biorefinery processes.
The second technique used within the MAB4 project is the use of clonal parental lines, which are formed from sugarkelp individuals with favourable traits, such as high growth rate and high component content. This is possible by isolation and vegetative propagation of individual gametophytes. The clonal lines can be crossed, resulting in test breeds, which are cultivated at the MAB4 sites. After the growing season these breeds are selected for favourable traits, resulting in a uniform cultivation crop. Both methods use local populations of sugarkelp without using any genetic modification or inter-species breeding to require a good uniform cultivation crop.