Domestication of nori for Northeast America: the Asian experience.
In view of the broad-based support of several federal agencies for enhanced mariculture of coastal resources, including the National and New England Sea Grant College Programs, Northeast Regional Aquaculture Center, Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation, a study of domesticating indigenous species of Porphyra was undertaken for commercial cultivation. Nori cultivation has one of the greatest potentials for generating a viable seaweed mariculture industry in the United States and Canada. Detailed seasonal and spatial collections from diverse coastal and estuarine habitats have been made to delineate the seasonality and habitat preferences of Porphyra in coastal New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. At least seven different species of Porphyra are being examined using a variety of traditional morphometric parameters and cytological and molecular techniques. Over 130 unialgal cultures of Porphyra amplissima, P. miniata, P. umbilicalis, P. linearis, P. purpurea, P. leucosticta, and P. carolinensis have been established and are being maintained for comparative molecular genetic and ecophysiological investigations. The abilities of each of these isolates to respond to traditional Asian nori cultivation techniques are also under examination. Several strains of each of the species of Porphyra have successfully completed their life cycles in culture and F2 individuals have been obtained for P. amplissima, P. leucosticta, P. purpurea, and P. umbilicalis. Conchocelis cultures have been successfully established in bivalve shells, a very important step in the domestication process. Whether or not nori aquaculture will ultimately succeed in New England and the Canadian Maritimes will depend in large part upon several key factors, including: (1) successful transfer and modification of Chinese and Japanese cultivation technologies to local coastal environments; (2) development of genetically improved strains (cultivars) of marketable nori that will extend the growing and harvest season; (3) establishing a constant and readily available supply of a "seedstock" of juvenile organisms; and (4) expansion of the area presently used for cultivation (i.e., beyond northern Maine).