Short Course Description
For thousands of years, humanity has prospered mostly due to mastering terrestrial agriculture. Food, clothing, housing, energy, materials, and drugs are mostly derived from land-grown plants and crops. Moreover, for years, plants derived paper and animal skins were the major tools for accumulated knowledge transmission through generations. However, in recent years we see the unpreceded growth in the human population. Such growth, in turn, generated new pressures on all supply chains that are required for human wellbeing. These supply chains require providing more and more plant-derived products and biomass. Such an increase of the raw biomass requires more land and freshwater for its cultivation on land. The question if we have water and land to feed the growing population is standing, and the current answer by most experts is that regional disparities in access to such resources in quantity and quality will create immense tensions between human societies in the foreseen future. However, the price we will pay in environmental damages for the conversion of new lands to cropland and fresh water for irrigation is enormous. Further expansion and intensification of agriculture present direct damage to biodiversity and water and soil quality.
Full syllabus will be available to registered students only
At the same time, for millennia, multiple coastal communities are using marine biomass- seaweeds or macroalgae- as biomass that supplies their needs in food, clothing, housing, materials, and drugs. The global production of this marine biomass, which does not require any arable land or freshwater for cultivation is still five orders of magnitude smaller than the terrestrial crops. However, only a tiny amount of seas and oceans surfaces are used for cultivation. The most substantial potential of this offshore biomass production is still to be revealed.
In addition, more than a sustainable replacement or alternative to land biomass, seaweed can provide unique benefits. Indeed, from their uncommon polysaccharides to pigments including their mineral content and other peculiar bioactive molecules and structures, macroalgae are an untapped source of innovative solutions for human societies.
How can seas and oceans provide the biomass that will power the further sustainable development of humanity? How will it power the bio- and blue economies?
In this course, we attempt to concisely show what has already been achieved in the field of offshore macroalgae cultivation, and which building blocks already exist that will enable seaweeds to supplement and replace terrestrial crops for future economic development.