The project brings together 14 partners from different Caribbean and metropolitan teams around the theme of massive Sargassum strandings along the Caribbean coast. The different partners involved in the project are known to produce work of high scientific quality and have already been involved in fundamental and applied research projects aimed at understanding certain ecological and physiological processes and at valorizing marine resources, particularly macroalgae. The partners are funded by various funding agencies :
– LEMAR – MIO – BOREA Caen : funded by the ANR
– BOREA-UA Guadeloupe : funded by the Région Guadeloupe
– L3MA-Martinique, BIODIVENV–Ifremer-Martinique : funded by the Collectivité Territoriale de Martinique
– CIRAD-Martinique, TMB-Martinique, EFINOR-Paimpol, ALGAIA-Saint Lô, LBCM-UBS, IRDL-UBS : funded by the ADEME
– The two foreign partners, CINVESTAV (Mexico) and UWI (Barbados) are self-financed as they are not eligible for the AAP SARGASSES 2019.
The human populations of the Caribbean region have been suffering since 2011 from brown tides followed by major Sargasso strandings which have disastrous consequences for the benthic fauna and flora, for health and human activities. The objectives of the SAVE-C project are to obtain basic knowledge on the rafts and species of Sargassum, but also to change the perception of the local populations facing mass strandings of Sargassum in coastal areas, turning this nuisance into an opportunity for valorization. The project is a contribution to three themes of the SARGASSES 2019 call: Themes 1,3,4. The SAVE-C project will fill knowledge gaps on the ecological functioning of coastal rafting and their threats in the Caribbean, but will also propose a solution to transform stranding into socio-economic opportunities with a potential way to develop applications of the abundant biomasses of macroalgae stranded on beaches.
By using a combination of field studies, ecological and physiological experiments and biotechnologies the SAVE-C project will allow :
- to provide knowledge on the Sargassum species responsible for these strandings and on the Sargassum rafts, a real habitat hosting animal, plant and microbial communities.
- to optimize the collection and storage of Sargassum biomass before their valorization in two sectors, agriculture and biomaterials.
- to provide recommendations concerning the collection and valorization of Sargassum biomass.
The project is divided into 5 research actions (WPs).
Sargassum rafts from the “New Sargasso Sea” are an atypical habitat and knowledge about its ecology is practically non-existent.
- WP1 Diversity associated with rafts (Resp. Valérie MICHOTEY, MIO-IRD) : the diversity associated with the habitat will be studied (fauna, flora and microorganisms). This diversity will be studied by different approaches, morphological, molecular and also by acoustics. The environmental parameters (temperature, salinity, O2, pH, arsenic, etc…) around and in the rafts will also be studied.
- WP2 Trophic and chemical interactions between organisms in rafts (Resp. Charlotte DROMARD, BOREA-UA Guadeloupe) : we will study the functional ecology within Sargassum rafts in order to identify the interactions between organisms (i.e. algae-grazers, algae-microbiota interactions), its trophic network, but also the evolution of these interactions during strandings that lead to ecological disturbances on local marine food webs.
A fundamental issue is the maintenance of Sargassum thalli in pelagic life, as opposed to the majority of Sargassum species that are benthic.
- WP3 Influence of environmental conditions on the Sargassum life cycle (Resp. Solène CONNAN, LEMAR-UBO) : we will study the life cycle of Sargassum, from the growth of the fragments, their vegetative reproduction, their dispersion until their degradation, in relation to the quality of the water (oligotrophy in the pelagic zones compared to the enrichment of the coastal environment, by the continental and/or atmospheric contributions) and with the contaminants (including arsenic).
Sargassum rafts and strandings represent a biomass to be valorized.
- WP4 Collection and stabilization of Sargassum raw material (Resp. Benjamin LERONDEAU EFINOR-Paimpol and Jean-Louis LENOISELE IRDL-UBS) : we will test strategies to collect, dry and use Sargassum biomass in times of mass stranding. This huge raw material is known to degrade very rapidly. We will then study different possibilities to stabilize this biomass and optimize its use, taking into account the possible accumulation of arsenic in the algal tissues.
- WP5 Eco-responsible extraction processes and biomass valorization (Resp. Maud BENOIT ALGAIA-Saint Lô and Nathalie BOURGOUGNON LBCM-UBS) : within the framework of the collaboration between industrial actors and university partners, we will valorize the algal biomass in 2 sectors: agriculture with the production of biopesticides/biostimulants and the biomaterials sector with the production of biocartons by combining algal polymers with fibers from Caribbean plants.