Effects of geographical location on potentially valuable components in Ulva intestinalis sampled along the Swedish coast

Joakim Olsson, Sofia Raikova, Joshua J. Mayers, Sophie Steinhagen, Christopher J. Chuck, Göran M. Nylund, Eva Albers

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6 Citations (SciVal)


Macroalgal biomass has the potential to become an important source of chemicals and commodities in a future biorefinery. Currently, production of macroalgal biomass is expensive and the content of high-value compounds is often low. Therefore, in this study the biochemical composition of Ulva intestinalis along the Swedish west coast and the east coast up to Stockholm was assessed with the aim of determining how the content of potentially valuable compounds, such as rhamnose, iduronic acid and PUFAs, could be maximized by utilizing natural variation in the choice of marine cultivation site. Along the investigated coastline, the salinity dropped from 19.4‰ at high latitudes along the west coast to 5.4‰ at Stockholm. Nitrogen and phosphorus availability varied, while temperature was similar at all locations. The two major components of biomass, carbohydrates and ash, varied inversely with the highest content of ash in the west and carbohydrates in the east. In addition, total fatty acids were significantly higher in west coast samples at 3.2 g 100 g–1 dw, with a higher proportion of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Some health-beneficial fatty acids were found, including EPA and DPA, at 10–50 mg 100 g–1 dw, respectively. The metal content and elemental composition varied widely, probably due to the influence of specific local conditions. The P content was correlated with the phosphorus concentration in waters at the locations. In PCA analysis, the monosaccharides constituting the cell wall polysaccharide ulvan were found to vary by geographical location, with higher levels possibly associated with lower salinities. However, only glucuronic acid differed significantly between sites. These results show the considerable geographical variability in the composition of Swedish U. intestinalis and suggest that different salinities could be used to create a lipid- or carbohydrate-rich biomass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-92
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Phycology
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project was supported by funds from the Area of Advanced Energy, Chalmers University of Technology under a grant from the cooperation program “Preem and Chalmers towards a sustainable refinery” and from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF), project number RBP14-0045. The British collaborators acknowledge support from the EPSRC through the Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Chemical Technologies [EP/L016354/1].


  • Fatty acids
  • growth location
  • macrocomposition
  • metals
  • monosaccharides
  • phosphorus
  • salinity gradients
  • sulphur
  • Ulva intestinalis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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