Assessment of the spatial variability of phenolic contents and associated bioactivities in the invasive alga Sargassum muticum sampled along its European range from Norway to Portugal.
Sargassum muticum, an invasive brown macroalga presently distributed along European Atlantic coasts from southern Portugal to the south coast of Norway, was studied on a large geographical scale for its production of phenolic compounds with potential industrial applications and their chemical and biological activities. S. muticum can produce high biomass in Europe, which could be exploited to supply such compounds. S. muticum was collected in Portugal, Spain, France, Ireland and Norway (three sites/country) to examine the effect of the latitudinal cline and related environmental factors. Assays focused particularly on polyphenols and their activities. Crude acetone-water extracts were purified using solid phase extraction (SPE) and antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of crude extracts and semi-purified fractions measured. Total phenolic content was assessed by colorimetric Folin-Ciocalteu assay and reactive oxygen species activities by 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl, reducing power, β-carotene bleaching method and xanthine oxidase assay. Antibacterial activities were tested on terrestrial and marine strains to evaluate potential use in biomedical and aquaculture fields. Purified active phlorotannins, isolated by SPE, were identified using NMR. Phenolic contents differ clearly among countries and among sites within countries. Quality did not change between countries, however, although there were some slight differences in phlorethol type. Additionally, some fractions, especially from the extreme north and south, were very active. We discuss this in relation to environmental conditions and the interest of these compounds. S. muticum represents a potential natural source of bioactive compounds and its collection could offer an interesting opportunity for the future management of this species in Europe.