Macro algae contain a range of polysaccharides, proteins, minerals, and some species produce higher value compounds such as alginates, fucoidan, and mannitol.
As such, macro algae is a suitable feedstock for bio refinery for co-production of chemicals and fuels to attain optimum valorisation, Similar to how crude oil is refined in both fuel and fine chemicals; the value of algae is greatly increased if the parts of the biomass that cannot be converted into fuels are utilized for food, feed, chemicals, cosmetics, biomaterials or even pharmaceutical applications.
All living creatures with whom we are acquainted are comprised of complex carbon compounds immersed in water. Two classes of molecules always seem to be present: Nucleic acids, the blueprints of inherited instructions, and proteins, the materials and tools with which the architecture of life is constructed.
Carbon chemistry in terrestrial organisms proceeds by chemical reactions in the medium of water -- an amazing substance with a whole set of properties which make it ideal for our kind of life. Some have even contended that "water is the only possible candidate material."
In 1913, Harvard University biochemist Lawrence J.Henderson published a little book entitled The Fitness of the Environment in which he assembled for the first time the many points in favour of water as a life-fluid. Henderson's analysis extends to the other molecules of life as well, and his main contribution is to show that the very chemical properties of the elements gives each of them a certain unique status and irreplaceability. Dr. Peter M. Molton at the University of Maryland has suggested that simple changes in the early prebiotic environment may drastically affect the chemical species which later turn up as the dominant actors on the biochemical stage of evolution. His example is drawn from Miller-type experiments involving the prebiotic synthesis of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.
In the lab, chemists have learned that there are two common structural forms taken by amino acids. They are called alpha and beta. The basic layout of an amino acid molecule is a chain of carbon atoms with a small - NH2 ("amino group") stuck on somewhere. In the alpha form, the amino group appears near the tail end of the molecule. In the beta form, the amino group is displaced more towards the front of the chain. All amino acids used in terrestrial biochemistry, with one minor exception, are of the alpha variety. The beta forms are absent. Why?
Molton shows that this peculiarity may be due to nothing more complicated than the order in which water is introduced during the early stages of chemical evolution. If H2O enters into the prebiotic reactions when the first simple compounds are being synthesized, then life will evolve with proteins consisting exclusively of alpha amino acids. This was probably the situation on the primitive Earth, eons ago.
Proteins and peptide content in seaweeds.
The mean crude protein content in seaweed dry matter is within a range of 10-20% in brown seaweed, and in the range of 20-50% in red and green seaweed species. The proportion of non-protein nitrogen may be 10-20% of total crude protein.
The content of digestible amino acids determines the protein nutritional value for monogastric species. Seaweed protein is relatively rich in total alanine, glycine, methionine and valine, and relatively low in aspartic acid, glutamic acid, and serine.Certain seaweed species contain bioactive lectins, a group of carbohydrate binding proteins present in many organisms. Because of protein-carbohydrate interactions with soluble and membrane-bound glycocon jugates, lectins are involved in host-pathogen interactions, induction of apoptosis, agglutination of blood cells, antibiotic effects, myogenic and cytotoxic effects of the immune system etc.
A number of these effects have been described for isolated lectins from seaweed (Verdrengh et al., 2000; Hori et al., 2000; Kawakubo et al., 1999).
Despite their potential use in medicine, a high lectin content in the diet maybe harmful for the digestive tract. A number of specific peptides have been isolated from seaweed species including depsipeptide (Kalahide F) with anti-cancer and anti-tumour activity, hexapeptide (SECMA 1) with effect on cell proliferation and others with specific effects on physiological processes, generally shown in model species as rats or in vitro cell systems. In addition, specific seaweed species may serve as a source of arginine, taurine and other rare amino acids studied for their medicinal properties.(Fleurence et al., 1999; Holdt and Kraan, 2011).
Protein digestibility is low due to binding of proteins to phenols, thereby forming insoluble compounds (Guiry and Blunden, 1991).
With regard to protein and peptides, there is little evidence for beneficial bioactive effects in farm animal nutrition above the contribution to the amino acid supply of the animals. Rather, the Non-food applications of seaweed fractions most beneficiary.Attention should be given to the species and the seasonal variation in composition. Further research has to find out whether processing of intact seaweed, e.g. cell wall degrading techniques and enzymatic break down of structural carbohydrates and proteins improves energy and protein digestibility. This would enhance the nutritional economic value of seaweed in animal diets.
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