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Evaluation of basic nutritional parameters of seaweeds in coastal Tamilnadu.


Seaweeds are used in many countries as a source food, for industrial application and as a fertilizer. The present uses of seaweeds are as human foods, fertilizers. Macro algal polysaccharides are used in the food, cosmetics, paint, crop, textile, paper, rubber and building industries. The seaweeds are also used as food in the regions of Far East and Australia. The most important food species in Japan are Nori (Porphyra), kombu (Laminaria species) and Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida). Seaweeds are dried after harvesting and into strips or powdered.

Iodine in seaweed is a natural source which is essential to human life. The iodine present in the food will be added to the amino acid tyrosine to synthesize thyroid hormone. In addition, seaweeds are used in medicine and pharmacology for their antimicrobial, anti tumor, anti coagulant and fibrinolytic properties. Marine algae may be used as energy collectors and potentially useful substances may be extracted by fermentation. As nutrients, they can be considered as low calorie foods, exhibiting high concentration of minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and iodine, vitamins, proteins, indigestible carbohydrates but a low content of lipids. Dietry anti oxidants from seaweeds are believed to prevent free radical mediated diseases. Several studies have focused on the anti oxidant activity of these extracts has been reported to be associated to the carotenoid fraction of the plant (Amin Ismail, 2002).

The best agar is manufactured from several other marine algae such as Geledium, Sarconema, Hypnea and Gracilaria. Seaweeds are used in different parts of the world as fertilizer for various land crops. In India, freshly collected and cast ashore seaweeds are used as manure for coconut plantation either directly or in the form of compost in coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Seaweed manure has been found superior to farm yard manure. Due to the presence of potassium chloride in seaweeds, they are used as fertilizers in many countries such as Japan, France, United States, England and South India. The use of seaweed extract in cosmetics is a major international trend at present. Alginates of different viscosity serve as a thickening and dispersing agents in cream, jellies, liquid emulsions, lotions, compact powder, tooth paste, soaps and alum etc. Algae are classified in to three main groups i.e. green (Chlorophyta), brown (Phaeophyta) and red (Rhodophyta).

In the present study, the seaweed samples were collected from different coastal areas of Tamil Nadu. The protein and carbohydrate content of different seaweeds were estimated and compared.

Materials and Methods

Collection of Samples

Seaweed samples were collected from different areas of the coastline. The places include Pulicat Lake, Covelam beach, Muttam, Kalpakkam, Ennore and Kanyakumari. The collection of samples from the inter-tidal area was done during the low tide. Samples were selected by random sampling method. Collected material were kept in the polythene bags and labeled for further preservation and identification at the later stage in the laboratory. The preservation was done both by the wet and dry preservation method (Agadi, 1976). The identification was done at the CAS Botany, University of Madras and at the Krishnamoorthy Institute of Algology, Anna Nagar, Chennai.

Estimation of protein

The protein content was using Bradford method (Bradford, 1976).

Estimation of Carbohydrate

The total carbohydrate content was estimated using the Anthrone method (Yemm and Willis, 1954).

Results and Discussion

Collection of samples

A total of 30 samples, belonging to 16 different genera were collected from different coastal areas of Tamil Nadu during the month of January, 2008 (Fig 1). The various locations selected for collection were Pulicat Lake, Ennore, Kanyakumari, Kalpakkam, Muttam and Kovalam. The samples were collected by Random Sampling Method (Agadi V.V, 1976). The samples were preserved for further analysis.

Preservation of Samples

The collected samples were preserved by Wet Preservation and Dry preservation method (Agadi V.V., 1976). The preserved samples were sent for further identification.

Identification of samples

Samples collected were from all the three types; Chlorophyta, Phaeophyta and Rhodophyta. Different green algae collected were Ulva sp., Enteromorpha sp., etc. Red algae collected were Hypnea sp., Amphiroa sp.,etc. and Brown algae collected were Sargassum sp., Steochospermum sp., etc.


Analysis of protein

The samples were analyzed for their protein content by Bradford Method (Bradford M., 1976). The varying protein content in different samples from various locales is compared in Fig 2. Of the various samples collected, Sargassum, brown seaweed from Kanyakumari, showed the highest protein content as that of 950[micro]g/g whereas the same species collected from Muttam showed a lower concentration of protein of about 550 [micro]g/g.

Two different varieties of Gracilaria, a red seaweed were collected from Kovalam. While the protein content in one species was about 850 [micro]g/g, and that of other species was around 100 [micro]g/g. The species of Gracilaria with higher protein content collected from other locales showed variations ranging between (100-200 [micro]g/g) in the protein content as compared to that of the samples from Kovalam. The Gracilaria collected from Pulicat had a protein content of about 750 [micro]g/g where as that of Muttam and Kanyakumari had a protein concentration of 600 [micro]g/g and 500 [micro]g/g respectively. In another similar study the total protein content in Gracilaria species was determined as high as 1070 [micro]g/g (d/w).

Another Rhodophyta, Hypnea showed protein content of 480 [micro]g/g. Similar amount of protein content was estimated in Calagossa, a red algae collected from Kanyakumari. The protein content was determined to be 700 [micro]g/g. Yet another red seaweed, Centroceras, Collected from Kanyakumari had a protein content of 405 [micro]g/g. Amphiroa, a red seaweed, had same protein content of 100 [micro]g/g even though it was collected separately from Muttam and Kovalam.


Ulva, a Chlorophyta, was found abundantly in most of the places. Two different species of Ulva were collected viz., Ulva lactuca and Ulva fasciata. The Ulva lactuca from Pulicat had a protein content of about 350 [micro]g/g whereas the one collected from Kanyakumari showed 200 [micro]g/g. Compared to this species, the other species Ulva fasciata from Kovalam showed had about 600 [micro]g/g of protein where as that of Pulicat had a protein content of 650 [micro]g/g. In a similar study, the total protein content was estimated as 277.58 g/kg (d/w). There is a wide range of variation in the protein content. The possible reason might be the variation in the growth conditions and the available nutrients. It has been found in many other studies that the nutritional contents of macro algae depend not only on season and geography (Fleurence 1999, Fleurence et al. 1999), but also on the nutrient content of the environment found total protein content in Ulva lactuca to lie between 19.29% and 18.22%, whereas Fleurence et al. (1999) found the total protein content of Ulva species vary between 18% and 26%.

Other green algae such as Enteromorpha and Chaetomorpha were collected from different locations. The protein content in Enteromorpha was determined as 200 [micro]g/g from Pulicat, 400 [micro]g/g from Muttam and 280 [micro]g/g from Kanyakumari. In a similar study the total protein content in Enteromorpha was found varying between 16.04% and 16.14%. According to our study, the highest protein content in Ulva was determined to be 650 [micro]g/g collected from Pulicat.

The protein content of Stoechospermum, a brown algae collected from Kanyakumari was determined to be 475 [micro]g/g. Another Phaephyte, Padina species showed higher protein content of about 765 [micro]g/g. Valeneopsin was collected from two different locales. The protein content was low; it was determined to 150 [micro]g/g and 200 [micro]g/g in samples collected from Muttam and Kanyakumari respectively.

Comparing the different samples collected from Kanyakumari, it is observed that the protein content determined varies between low as 100 [micro]g/g in Ulva to high of 950 [micro]g/g in Sargassum. Of all the samples collected from Kanyakumari, the protein content in Phaephytes seems promising as that of Sargassum and Padina species. The different variety Rhodophyta collected showed variations from 405 [micro]g/g in Centroceras, 480 [micro]g/g in Hypnea, 500 [micro]g/g in Gracilaria to a high of 700 [micro]g/g in Calagossa. Among the various species collected from Pulicat, Gracilaria showed the highest quantity of protein of about 750 [micro]g/g whereas the other Chlorophyta showed comparatively lesser quantities, as that of 650 [micro]g/g in Ulva fasciata and 200 [micro]g/g in Ulva lactuca. In the samples collected from Kovalam, the highest protein content was found in Gracilaria species as that of 850 [micro]g/g and the lowest was found in Amphiroa species. Ulva species collected from the same place showed a relatively higher protein content of 600 [micro]g/g whereas that of Chaetomorpha was around 300 [micro]g/g.

Among the various samples collected from Muttam, Chaetomorpha species showed the highest protein content of 750 [micro]g/g and the lowest was that of Amphiroa species, of about 100 [micro]g/g. The Gracilaria species showed a protein content of 600 [micro]g/g. The Sargassum species collected has a protein content of 550 [micro]g/g and that of Enteromorpha species has about 400 [micro]g/g of protein content.

Analysis of Carbohydrates

The carbohydrate analysis of various samples was done by Anthrone method (Yemm and Willis, 1954). The varying protein content in different samples from various locales is compared in Fig 3. The carbohydrate content was estimated to be highest in Gracilaria species from Kanyakumari . It was about 100mg/g i.e about 100g/kg. In a similar study, the carbohydrate content of a Gracilaria was estimated to be around 43.07g/kg.

The lowest carbohydrate content was observed in Halimeda species from Kanyakumari. It was about 21 mg/g. Two varieties of Ulva were collected. Ulva from Kovalam had a protein content of about 43mg/g whereas the same species from Kanyakumari had about 39mg/g. The other species of Ulva from Kanyakumarai had about 60mg/g of carbohydrate content whereas the one collected from Pulicat had about 90.5mg/g. Enteromorpha collected from Pulicat contained 39mg/g of carbohydrate and that collected from Kanyakumari had 46mg/g. Amphiroa, a red seaweed was collected from two different locations; Muttm and Kovalam. The estimated carbohydrate contents were relatively similar; 30mg/g and 27mg/g respectively. Valeneopsin, collected from two places Muttam and Kanyakumari showed slight variation of 25mg/g to 34mg/g respectively. Centroceras, a Rhodophyta, had a carbohydrate content of about 29mg/g which is lesser compared to other red algae collected. Chaetomorpha, a green algae had a carbohydrate content of about 38mg/g.

Stoechospermum, brown algae had a low content of carbohydrate content of about 25mg/g. Similar results were obtained from Spyridia and Caulerpa collected. Spyridia had a carbohydrate content of about 35mg/g whereas Caulerpa had about 33mg/g.


Summary and Conclusion

The samples were collected from different coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, viz., Kanyakumari, Pulicat, Muttam, Kovalam, Ennore and Kalpakkam by random sampling method. The collected samples were preserved by wet and dry preservation technique. The preserved samples were identified and were used for further biochemical estimation.

The basic nutritional parameters namely, proteins and carbohydrates were estimated. The highest protein content was estimated in that of Sargassum species, 950 [micro]g/g and lowest was in that of Amphiroa species, 100 [micro]g/g, the highest carbohydrate content was estimated in that of gracilaria species 100mg/g and lowest was in that of Halimeda species 21mg/g.

Hence, further research on different varieties of seaweeds can be resourceful for tapping various nutritional benefits. Keeping in to view, the recent tremendous increase in research on seaweeds, this study is to be continued for evaluation of certain other potential nutritional parameters like lipid contents and their respective fatty acid content, iodine value, iron, calcium and phosphorus content, pigment content, anti nutritional factors like Phytic acid and Trypsin inhibitors etc.


[1] Amin Ismail & Tan siew Hong, 2002, Antioxidant activity of selected commercial seaweeds, Mal J Nutr 8(2):167-177.

[2] Agado V.V., 1976, Sea weeds Manual 5(2):365.

[3] Bradford M., 1976, A rapid and sensitive method for the quantization of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principle of protein-dye binding, Anal. Biochem. 72, 248-254.

[4] Fluerence J., Chenard E., Lucon M., 1999, Determination of the nutritional value of proteins obtained from Ulva armoricana, J., Appl. Phycol., 11, 231-239.

[5] Yemm E.W., Willis A. J.,1954, The estimation of carbohydrates in plant extracts by anthrone.

V. Dhanalakshmi (1), L. Jeyanthi Rebecca (2), G. Revathi (3), S. Sharmila (4)

(1) Lecturer & Research Scholar, (2) Professor & Head and (3), (4) Lecturer (1), (2), (3), (4) Department of Industrial Biotechnology, Bharath University
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Author:Dhanalakshmi, V.; Rebecca, L. Jeyanthi; Revathi, G.; Sharmila, S.
Publication:International Journal of Biotechnology & Biochemistry
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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