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Background 

Since the war, the use of seaweeds in New Zealand for commercial applications has continued to be based largely on agar extraction from Pterocladia lucida, though recently Ecklonia kelp has been used in the making of liquid seaweed fertilisers and animal drenches.

Seaweed extracts are used in a tremendously wide range of products from dogfood to DNA finger-printing.  Seaweeds are in demand because of the gelatinous polysaccharides in the cell walls of the many varieties.  The ability of these polysaccharides – agar, carrageenan and alginate – to gel liquids, hold material in suspension and to act as thickeners makes them invaluable in myriad applications.

Agar was first used as a solid culture medium for experiments on tuberculosis bacteria in 1882.  Amazingly, 100 years later it remains the culture medium of choice for general microbiological work, and much growth and cloning of recombinant microbes and plants produced by gene technology is performed on it.  Most DNA electrophoresis – a high resolution method for separating DNA fragments that has been central to the success of almost all modern genetic technologies – depends on agarose gels derived from seaweeds.

Current Industry Uses

This section is being researched -

 

 

 

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