Lim Phaik Eem, PhD
Associate Professor & Head of Marine Biotechnology Unit,
Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences (IOES)
University of Malaya,
50603 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel:+ 603-7967-4640 (lab),+603-7967-7180 (room),Fax: +603-7967-6994,email: email@example.com
Use of Molecular Markers for Identification of Tropical Commercially Important Seaweeds
The continuous demand for food and other products from seaweeds has encouraged the development of seaweed macriculture. The four main seaweeds taxa that are cultivated in the tropics are: Eucheuma, Kappaphycus, Gracilaria and Caulerpa. Among the four taxa, Kappaphycus and Eucheuma are widely cultivated throughout South East Asia. In 2009, the total production of Kappaphycus and Eucheuma (Cottoni) was around 200,000MT, with Indonesia producing (54%), Philippines (40%), Malaysia (3%), Timor Leste (1%) and Solomon Islands (1%). Despite that, there is no systematic approach or guidelines in selecting the cultivars for farming. Conventionally, the commercial traits such as fast growth rate, high survival rates (disease resistance), and high yield of desired products are used for cultivar selection. The selection can be from wild populations, cross/out breeding or hybridization. Despite the availability and use of selected strains in commercial cultivation, decline in quality and yields of seaweed biomass and their products prevails. Phenotypic plasticity is common among many cultivated species, for example the Eucheumatoids and Gracilaria; despite the use of clonal planting stocks in mariculture, there are high variations in morphological features such as colour and branching patterns, and biomass in terms of growth as well as yield of desired products and disease resistance. Therefore, there is a need to use molecular markers to identify the different strains or the clones for cultivation. In this paper, we will discuss the use of molecular markers in species and strain identification of Kappaphycus, Eucheuma and Garcilaria which is useful for mariculture.