Sampling Kelp!
Date of publication: Nov 28, 2022

Hello everyone!  

My name is Emma, I am a KULeuven biology student pursuing a master’s degree in ecology and evolution. I have chosen to search for a thesis on seaweed research and I was lucky enough to become a part of the RESTORESEAS project. This has been an awesome experience so far, which started off with a fieldwork weekend to Normandy with my supervisors Jessica Knoop and Willem Stock.

Left: Me holding Golder kelp. Middle: Underwater photo of where we snorkelled. Right: Willem Stock, Jessica Knoop and me

I got the opportunity to collect Golden kelp (Laminaria ochroleuca) in the field myself and, even though chasing the low tide on rocky shores was challenging, we were rewarded with beautiful sunsets and colourful kelp forests. We took bacterial swabs and sampled tissue from the stipe, meristem and blades to get an idea of the bacteria present on this kelp. This will form the basis to produce a bacterial probiotic which will increase the success rate of Golden kelp restoration projects in the near future. We also sampled the kelp’s reproductive parts so we could grow the kelp offspring (the gametophytes) in the lab. For the past few weeks, I have been isolating the previously mentioned bacteria, while carefully monitoring growth of the gametophytes. At the moment we have offspring coming from kelp in Normandy (FR) but also from Plymouth (GB) and Faro (PT). I have been testing which antibiotics to use to rear axenic offspring without loss of biomass. You can see the gametophytes under the microscope. Most of them are still male or female but some have started to develop eggs, so it won’t be long before they form a new generation of sporophytes! Watching this is really exiting and I can’t wait to start the trials!  

Left: Me isolating bacteria. Right: Golden Kelp gametophytes.

Written by Emma Gouwy, Ghent University