Texture analysis of Laminaria digitata (Phaeophyceae) thallus reveals trade-off between tissue tensile strength and toughness along lamina

Alexander Lubsch 1 , 2  and Klaas Timmermans 1 , 2
  • 1 Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research, and Utrecht University, PO Box 140, 4401 NY Yerseke, Netherlands
  • 2 Department Ocean Ecosystems, University of Groningen, PO Box 72, 9700 AB, Groningen, Netherlands
Alexander Lubsch
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research, and Utrecht University, PO Box 140, 4401 NY Yerseke, Netherlands
  • Department Ocean Ecosystems, University of Groningen, PO Box 72, 9700 AB, Groningen, Netherlands
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  • Alexander Lubsch obtained his MSc in Marine Science from the University of Rostock (Germany) in collaboration with Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI, Helgoland, Germany), where he worked on the differential palatability of floating and non-floating seaweed parts by meso-grazer. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, and Utrecht University, The Netherlands. His doctoral research is on the feasibility of sustainable seaweed farming in the North Sea area and he is particularly interested in seaweed ecology, cultivation and its biotechnological applications.
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and Klaas Timmermans
  • Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research, and Utrecht University, PO Box 140, 4401 NY Yerseke, Netherlands
  • Department Ocean Ecosystems, University of Groningen, PO Box 72, 9700 AB, Groningen, Netherlands
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  • Klaas Timmermans is a senior scientist at NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, and Utrecht University, The Netherlands and an honorary Professor of Marine Plant Biomass at Groningen University, The Netherlands. His research interests are in ecophysiology and ecology of seaweeds.
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Texture analysis is a method to test the physical properties of a material by tension and compression. The growing interest in commercialisation of seaweeds for human food has stimulated research into the physical properties of seaweed tissue. These are important parameters for the survival of sessile organisms consistently exposed to turbulent flow and varying drag-forces. These tactile properties also affect consumer perception and acceptance of materials. Here, we present a standardised method to determine these physical properties using, as an example, the brown seaweed Laminaria digitata (Hudson) J.V. Lamouroux, which is prevalent on coastlines along the northern Atlantic Ocean. Morphological features of a healthy L. digitata thallus (lamina) seem modified to withstand physical distress from hydrodynamic forces in its wave-swept habitat. The trade-off in tissue responses to tensile and compression forces along the lamina, linked to an age gradient, indicates a twinned alignment of its cellular microstructure, similar to those of modern nanotechnology, to optimise the toughness and flexibility of constituent tissue. Tensile strength increased from young to old tissue along a positive toughness gradient of 75%. Based on our results, a short interpretation is given of the heterogeneity in L. digitata lamina from morphological, ecological and physiological perspectives.

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Botanica Marina publishes high-quality contributions from all of the disciplines of marine botany at all levels of biological organisation from subcellular to ecosystem: chemistry and applications, genomics, physiology and ecology, phylogeny and biogeography. Research involving global or interdisciplinary interest is especially welcome as well as applied science papers dealing with emerging conceptual issues or developing technologies.