Towards a sustainable production of Osmundea pinnatifida:
: insight into the cultivation and biochemical composition of the species

  • Cecilia Biancacci

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


The consumption of wild harvested Osmundea pinnatifida as food in UK, Portugal and Spain has a long tradition. However, the collection of wild material is time consuming, unsustainable and limited by seasonality. Cultivation represents the preferred option for future exploitation of this species. This study aimed at identifying the best rearing system for cultivation and commercial production of O. pinnatifida. Phylogenetic analyses of populations along the West coast of Scotland were conducted, to identify the species prior cultivation experiments, but also to explore population variation within the frame of possible genetic pollution due to introduction of alien species for farming purpose. The biochemical composition and variation of wild and cultivated specimens was assessed. Giving for the first time an overview of the seasonality of the biochemical and metabolomic profile of the species, an understanding of the correlation of biochemistry and environmental factors, and an insight in how cultivation conditions can manipulate the composition of the species. This information enhanced the knowledge on the metabolites present in O. pinnatifida, with significant outcome for further commercial applications (e.g. food, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, etc.). Several cultivation methodologies were trialled, including exploration of reproductive cycle and vegetative cultivation. Particularly, experiments in flasks, in indoor and outdoor tank systems, PBR and on-sea out-plantation were conducted, evaluating how cultivation parameters (e.g. light, temperature, nutrient, chemical treatments, supply of hormones and fertilizer) affect the growth, biochemistry and morphology of the species. The outcome was the establishment of an indoor tumbling cultivation system for the vegetative production of O. pinnatifida tetrasporophytes. This pioneering methodology has the potential to be scaled up and commercially applied, possibly achieving a continuous and tailored supply of the resource that would be sustainable and independent from seasonality.
Date of Award12 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Aberdeen
SponsorsJames Hutton Institute (Aberdeen)
SupervisorMichele Stanley (Supervisor), John Day (Supervisor) & Gordon Mcdougall (Supervisor)

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