The red algal genus Asparagopsis (Bonnemaisoniaceae) is a significant resource for bioactive natural products. However, prior to domestication for commercial production, we need to understand the potential variation in growth and concentration of natural products between isolates of Asparagopsis and, beyond that, how these traits are affected by environmental conditions. Ten isolates of Asparagopsis taxiformis were collected from tropical and warm-temperate regions in Queensland, Australia, and identified by molecular barcoding of the mitochondrial intergenic spacer (cox2–3 spacer). The isolates were cultured at three temperatures ranging from the minimum of the warmtemperate region to the maximum of the tropical region. Growth rates and the concentration of natural products varied between the region of origin, between isolates within region and between temperatures. Growth differed by up to 50% between isolates, whereas the concentration of natural products differed more than tenfold. Growth rates were highest at the minimum temperature of 20.2°C, irrespective of region of origin, and were lowest at the maximum temperature of 28.1°C. Natural products were threefold higher in tropical isolates, and this variation was not correlated to growth. Consequently, targeting isolates with high concentrations of natural products should be the primary strategy for the domestication of Asparagopsis for biotechnology applications.
Journal of Applied Phycology / Vol. Article in press