The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution leads a MARINER Category 5 project to develop a selective breeding program for sugar kelp, Saccharina latissima, one of the most commercially important kelp species. The goal of the project is to improve productivity and cost effectiveness of seaweed farming. The breeding program will build a germplasm library associated with plants that produce a 20% to 30% yield improvement over plants currently farmed. By using a combination of novel rapid phenotyping, a newly annotated reference genome, genome-wide association studies, and genome prediction methods, the team expects to accelerate the production of improved kelp while decreasing the number of costly field evaluations. The project will conduct sampling and testing at field sites in Soutern and Northern New England. If successful, the team will establish a breeding program that increases the quantitative genetic knowledge and genomic resources necessary to make informed breeding decisions — enabling the first step towards domestication and economically viable production of sugar kelp for bioenergy production in the United States.
PI: Scott Lindell; email@example.com
Cornell University, University of Connecticut