Marine Algal Research Station, Mandapam was established on 01.01.1967 exclusively to develop seaweed cultivation. The centre is ideally located on the Gulf of Mannar coastline where seaweed is abundant. The centre has first developed Gracilaria edulis (agarophyte )cultivation using the rope method in Krusadai island and later developed Gelidiella acerosa (agarophyte) cultivation using the coral stone method in Ervadi coastline. During early 2000, the centre has successively developed Kappaphycus alvarezii cultivation which was licensed to Aquagri P Ltd Delhi for commercial cultivation. K.alvarezii cultivation provides best livelihood for about 1000 fisher population of Tamil Nadu coast.
The team is actively involving in exploring new seaweeds and new technologies in seaweed cultivation for sustainable commercial seaweed cultivation along the Tamil Nadu coast. The team is currently focusing the research activities on a) Elite Kappaphycus alvarezii seedling production through tissue culture technique b) Commercial seedling production of Gracilaria edulis through spore culture c) cultivation of indigenous carrageenaophytes d) Pilot scale seedling production of Kappaphycus alvarezii and e) Pilot scale cultivation of seaweeds in Andaman coast.
Establishment of Seaweed Tissue Culture Laboratory
In vitro somatic embryogenesis and regeneration of somatic embryos to whole plants through micropropagules was successfully demonstrated from pigmented uniseriate filamentous callus of Kappaphycus alvarezii Doty in axenic cultures. CSIR-CSMCRI has produced few propagules in the laboratory which were successfully cultivated at the sea for 3-4 generations. The tissue cultured plants showed superior growth rate over the conventional farmed plants. In order to produce the tissue cultured plants at commercial scale, a separate laboratory exclusively for carrying out tissue culture of seaweed has been established at a cost of 30 lakhs. Work is progressing well and soon tissue cultured plants from callus will be produced at commercial scale.
Commercial seedling production of Gracilaria edulis through spores:
Gtacilaeia edulis is exclusively used for extraction of food grade agar by the Indian industries. The alga has been harvested from the wild stocks located along the Southeast coast of India for more than 3 decades. Indiscriminate exploitation leads to `extinct of this alga from the wild stocks. In order to augment G.edulis biomass, seedling production from spores were successfully done. The method involves releasing the spores of Gracilaria edulis in the controlled laboratory condition and cultured for 60-75 days and young sporelings were grown until they reached to an average size of 0.9 – 1.3 cm. These sporelings were transferred to the out door tanks and cultured for 25 days until the plantlets reached to the size of 2.0 to 2.5 cm. The plantlets were then transferred to the sea and kept for 20 days for conditioning in 1m × 1m size rafts. Initial seed used was 10 g per raft and 1.5kg fresh biomass was harvested after 20 days. The harvested biomass was finally seeded on 2m × 2m size raft and multiplied to 100 rafts scale. An average of 25kg fresh biomass was harvested from a single raft in 45 days. Totally 4.7 tones fresh biomass were produced and supplied to 69 individual farmers along the Tamil Nadu coast. They seeded the seedlings to 492 number of bamboo rafts (3m x 3 m size) and harvested 20 tonnes dry biomass. Technology on production of G. edulis plants from spores was successfully developed for the first time in our country.
Elite Kappaphycus alvarezii seedling production through micropropagation.
Kappaphycus alvarezii commercial cultivation was initiated in 2001 along the southeast coast of Tamil Nadu. Production increased exponentially from 21 dry metric tonnes in 2001 to 1,490 dry tonnes in 2013. The number of seaweed growers in Tamil Nadu have risen from a mere 6in 2001 to 950 in 2013. However, the production sharply declined in the subsequent years due to mass mortality. Only few hundred farmers are involving in K.alvarezii cultivation. Most of the farmers involved in seaweed cultivation are become jobless now. There was huge demand for seed material for continuing the cultivation. To make K alvarezii a sustainable cultivation, CSIR-CSMCRI has produced elite seedlings through micropropagation of tissue cultured plants and supplied the seedlings to the seaweed cultivators. So far 6800 elite seedlings were produced and supplied to 150 farmers. Elite seedlings showed 20% higher growth as compared to the conventional farm plants and the farmers earning 20% more money. Honourable Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Diary Shrr. Giriraj Singh distributed the elite seedlings to the farmers at Mandapam coast on 23.01. 2021.
Cultivation of Indigenous carrageenan yielding seaweeds
Experimental scale cultivation of indigenous carrageenophytes such as Acanthophora spp, Agardhiella subulata, Ahnfeltiopsis pygmaea, Laurencia spp and Solieria spp were successfully done using bamboo raft method. Results on few successive harvests showed encouraging results and confirmed the possibility of commercial cultivation of these indigenous carrageenan yielding seaweeds.
Pilot scale seedling production of Kappaphycus alvarezii
Huge demand in Kappaphycus alvarezii seed material for expansion of commercial cultivation along the Tamil Nadu coast. Recently CSIR-CSMCRI initiated seed stock maintenance and 300 tonnes seedling production under PMMSY. Fifteen farmers are involving in seed production at 4 places in Ramanathapuram and Pudukkottai Districts. So far 50 tonnes of seed material have been produced.
Seaweed cultivation in Andaman coast
Andaman coast located in Bay of Bengal has 864 islands and most of the islands are uninhabited. Andaman coast has a number of small bays and Gulfs which are more suitable for seaweed cultivation. However, seaweed cultivation has not yet been started. For the first time, CSIR CSMCRI has initiated seaweed cultivation in Andaman coast. Kappaphycus alvarezii. Gracilaria edulis and G.salicornia are seeded with 15 rafts each in Hathi tapu and Dundus point. Plants are growing well giving confidence that cultivation can be taken up at commercial scale along the Andaman coast.
Seaweed seedling production facility
Seaweed seedling production