Wild-grown Gracilaria chilensis subjected to a post-harvest period of light-deprived culture prior to extraction gave native agar with greatly improved gel strength. Two quite different sets of post-harvest seawater nutrient and motion conditions gave the greatest improvements in gel strength. Gel strengths of dialysis/freezethaw purified native agars (711–912 g cm−2 for a 1.5% w/w gel) compared favourably with those of a commercial bacteriological agar (645 g cm−2 for a 1.5% w/w gel). Such a post-harvest light deprivation regime might be a practical, environmentally friendly alternative to the chemical processing (alkali treatment) currently necessary for the production of food grade agar from Gracilaria chilensis.
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