- June 14, 2019 at 9:25 am #1593
“Thirteen point two.” One scientist calls out the measurement; another jots it down in her data sheet. It’s hot and stuffy in the lab, and the pungent smell of seaweed is inescapable as the team sits for hours at a black table measuring blades of sugar kelp—brownish seaweeds that look like oversized slabs of bacon.
“Nine point four.” Another data entry.
Using a mix of rulers, calipers, and measuring tapes, a dozen scientists—a seaweed science task force—are sizing up thousands of individual kelp blades recently harvested from a research farm in New England in order to find the best specimens for selective breeding. It’s a long, exacting process, but for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biologist Scott Lindell, it’s a key step toward turning the ocean crop into a global energy source for the future.
“This is groundbreaking work since it’s the first time in North America that anyone has phenotyped, or measured many traits, in a seaweed crop—something we take for granted with land-based agriculture,” said Lindell.
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