Okinawa mozuku: The treasure under the sea
Mozuku is a unique Okinawan seaweed. Scientifically known as Cladosiphon okamuranus, this alga is popular in Japanese cuisine, and it has been farmed for more than 35 years. The cultivation of this seaweed is a key element in the economy of Okinawa: in 2006, the Japanese Cabinet Office estimated a 20,000 ton production, with an economic value of billions of Yen. 99% of this seaweed is produced in Okinawa, almost entirely farmed by humans. When in 2015 the production dropped for causes related with the higher temperature of the ocean, political institutions and research centres started to coordinate in order to develop a strategy to preserve this Okinawan treasure.
Koki Nishitsuji, Asuka Arimoto, Noriyuki Satoh and Eiichi Shoguchi, from the Marine Genomics Unit of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), led the decoding of the DNA of a specific strain of Okinawa mozuku - the S-strain. Their project was a collaboration between several institutions: the Okinawa Prefectural Fisheries Research and Extension Center, Meiji University, the University of the Ryukyus, the OIST DNA Sequencing Section, and the OIST Marine Genomics Unit. Their results are published in DNA Research.
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Cladosiphon Okamuranus Image via gov.cn