A Red Seaweed from Eastern Sicily:
Chondracanthus Tedeei, called “Màuru”
A De Angelis*
*Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente - Università degli Studi di Catania, Italy
Submission: July 12, 2022; Published: July 29, 2022
*Corresponding author: A De Angelis, Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente - Università degli Studi di Catania, Italy
How to cite this article: JA De Angelis. A Red Seaweed from Eastern Sicily: Chondracanthus Tedeei, called “Màuru”.
Agri Res & Tech: Open Access J. 2022; 26 (5): 556353. DOI: 10.19080/ARTOAJ.2022.26.556353
Much of the research conducted in recent decades has involved the identification of alternative foods capable of filling the growing demand for proteins and reducing the phenomenon of greenhouse gases, also thanks to their content of antimethanigenic substances. For this reason, many researchers have focused their attention on algae in general and red algae in particular. This note reports the results of the analyzes carried out on the red macroalga Chondracanthus tedeei, widespread in a restricted area of eastern Sicily, where it is known by the dialectal name of “Màuru”, to highlight its main bromatological characteristics. The results obtained show a good carbohydrate and protein content and a high ash content (39.46, 38.3 and 20.68%, respectively) on dry matter (DM) basin. The protein is of good value for having a percentage content of essential amino acids, similar to that of egg; the ashes have an optimal sodium and potassium content (~ 1: 1) and a high iodine content. Although the results obtained are comparable to those found in other red algae, of the same species and of other species, further investigations would be desirable, both to highlight any seasonal and / or environmental variability, and to determine the content in other interesting bioactive substances, such as, for example, fatty acids, antimethanigenic substances, heavy metals.
Keywords: Chondracanthus tedeei; Red algae; Bromatological characteristics
In recent decades, the demand for food protein sources has visibly increased, especially in developed countries; global protein demand is expected to double between 2020 and 2050 . A solution to the problem could be to resort to alternative protein sources such as insects which have high protein content and provide essential amino acids; the total protein level varies according to the stage of life and varies between approximately 50 and 80%. Due to relatively low consumer acceptance, incorporating insect proteins into food products still poses a significant challenge [2,3]. The increase in animal husbandry cannot be a viable solution due to their negative impact on the environment, including, among others, the production of greenhouse gases . According to the 2019 FAO report, animal farms contribute about 14% to the production of greenhouse gases . In particular, most greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production are in the form of methane (CH4), which is produced largely through enteric fermentation, representing a loss in food energy consumption, and to a lesser extent, the decomposition of manure . For this reason, many studies have been carried out to reduce enteric emissions of CH4 through the use of food additives, dietary manipulation and the quality of forage .
Another alternative protein source is represented by algae. Algae have positive health effects such as immune regulation, radiation protection, skin whitening effect, blood pressure, fat, sugar reduction, Alzheimer’s disease alteration and delay, promotion bowel health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease [8,9]. The beneficial properties of algae depend on the presence of bioactive compounds with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and antitumor characteristics [10,11].s
The edible aquatic macroalgae are classified into three main groups based on the composition of photosynthetic pigments present, red seaweed (Rhodophyta), brown seaweed (Ochrophyta, Phaeophyceae), and green seaweed (Chlorophyta). Many studies have involved red algae. Red algae have a higher protein content (10-40%) than green or brown algae . The most active proteins are lectin and phycobiliprotein. Lectins are glycoproteins with biological control functions; phycobiliproteins
are chromoproteins with anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective and
antioxidant functions  (Pooja, 2020).
They have a good content of essential amino acids even
if some authors find a lack of methionine, cystine and lysine
. They possess water-soluble pigments, used as food dyes
, polysaccharides with gelling properties such as agar,
carrageenan and alginates applied in the food, biomedical,
pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries . Some red
algae have antimethanogenic properties due to their ability to
synthesize halogenated analogues of CH4, such as bromoform and
dibromochloromethane, within specialized glandular cells as a
natural defense mechanism .
Several studies have been conducted on the antimethanogenic
power and on the mechanisms of action of synthetic additives,
nitro and halogenated compounds, and natural halogenated
compounds synthesized from algae [18-26]. Other studies,
conducted in Australia, tested the antimethanigenic power, both in
vitro and in vivo, of red algae [27-32]. The aim of the present was
to analyze a red alga belonging to the Chondracanthus species,
Chondracanthus tedeei, present in the coasts of eastern Sicily,
known by the dialectal name of “Màuru” .
Chondracanthus derives from the Greek words chondrus
(cartilage) and akanthos (thorn, alluding to its thorny aspect); and
Teedei derives from the name of its collector, the British Tedde
. This edible seaweed once grew luxuriantly on the coasts
of the Ionian coast; today, unfortunately, finding it represents a
real stroke of luck: due to the pollution of the seas, this alga is no
longer able to grow, precisely because it finds no conditions for
survival except in clear and uncontaminated waters. Thanks to the
help of the fishermen in the area, it was possible to find a suitable
quantity to carry out the analyzes that are the subject of this study.
Analyzes relating to the chemical composition were carried
out on dried samples of the red macroalgae Chondracanthus
tedeei according to the standard protocols of the Association
of Official Analytical Chemists . Moisture and ash content
were determined at 105 °C for 24 hours and 575 °C for 6 hours,
respectively; the fat content was analyzed by Soxhlet extraction
with petroleum ether as a solvent and the protein content of the
dried samples was examined by the Kjeldahl method, using the
corresponding red algae conversion factor of 4.59 following the
instructions of . The total carbohydrate content (g / 100 g
of body weight) was determined by difference as follows: 100-
(g protein + g of fat + g of ash). Crude fiber, NDF, ADF and lignin
were determined according to the Weende and Van Soest method;
macroelements, microelements and amino acids were determined
by mass spectrometry and HPLC. The energy (kcal / 100 g of DM)
was calculated according to Regulation (EU) no. 1169/2011 
as follows: 4 × (g proteins + g carbohydrates) + 9 × (g fat).
Due to the difficulty of finding red algae in the distribution
area of the Ionian coasts of eastern Sicily, no data on the chemical
composition of the macroalga Chondracanthus tedeei, called
“Màuru”, is found in the bibliography. The analyzes carried out
on the dried samples revealed an overall chemical composition
on average similar to other red macroalgae. In particular, the
percentage composition of the dry substance sees the carbohydrate
component prevail (39.46%), represented by 3.19% by crude
fiber, followed by the protein component (38.3%), only slightly
lower, and by the ashes (20.68%); lipids are not very present
(1.36%). Bastos et al. , finds on Chondracanthus tedeei native
to Brazil a decidedly lower protein content (14.66%), a slightly
higher ash content (28.68%) and a similar fiber and lipid content,
respectively equal to 2 , 21% and 1.82% (Table 1).
Morgan et al.  , analyzing the red macroalga Palmaria
palmata, found very wide variations in the values relating to the
various chemical constituents: from 73 to 89% of humidity and, on
a dry basis, from 12 to 37% of ash, from 8 to 35 % crude protein,
38 to 74% carbohydrates and 0.2 to 3.8% lipids. They attribute
some of the variations to different seasonal and nutritional
conditions. Other authors also find significant seasonal variations
in the chemical composition of red algae [40-42]. The amino acid
content (Table 2) shows a high percentage of essential amino
acids (46.6% of the total) and the profile of essential amino acids
is close to that of egg; this, in accordance with what Dupin et al.
and Friedman [43,44], allows us to consider the seaweed protein
of good nutritional value.
Among the essential amino acids, the most represented were
valine (7.4%), leucine (6.9%) and phenylalanine (4.8%). Among
the non-essentials, aspartic acid (13.9%), glycine (9.4%) and
glutamic acid (8.7%). Some authors note seasonal variations in the
amino acid content, probably due to variations in environmental
conditions such as the intensity of sunlight and the amount of
nitrogen . Among the macroelements potassium and sodium
abound with values of 32030 and 31890 mg / kh DM; their ratio of
1 makes this alga suitable for consumers with high blood pressure
problems  (Table 3).
Among the microelements, iodine is the most represented
(1305 mg / kg DM), but, unlike sodium and potassium, the
abundance of iodine could create dietary problems to have
goitrogen effects. Iron, zinc and copper show levels similar to
those found by other authors, with values of 140, 110 and 3.56
respectively (Table 3), as found in various marine algae [47,48].
Despite this, it is known that various factors, including the species
they belong to and the geographical area of diffusion, can greatly
influence the mineral and vitamin content of the .
The use of brackish water in semi-arid to arid Small Island
Developing States (SIDS) is a matter of adaptation and resilience.
Irrigation with desalinated, blended, brackish water can be an
alternative. This study gave indications that these waters, when
combined can increase the availability of quality water, improve
yield and agricultural productivity. Reducing the salinity of the
electrical conductivity of brackish water, T4 (ECw 5.75) to T3
(ECw 3.5 dS/m) and T2 (ECw 2.5 dS/m,) by reverse osmosis
desalination, increased tomato crop yield to more than 3 times
in T3 (4.8 to 16.56 ton/ha ) and to more than 5 times in T2
(4.8 to 23.38 ton/ha). The studies give hints that moderately
sensitive (MS) and moderately salinity tolerant (MT) crops can be
grown using blended water. Mixing 50% saline water with 50%
desalinated water raised the levels of salts and other essential
minerals satisfactorily, while producing water with a salinity of
ECw = 3.25 dS/m. Likewise, economic and environmental benefits
of reducing irrigation water salinity from ECw 5.75 to ECw 2.5
dS/m in blended water T2 proved consistent in both tomato and
sweet potato, blended option II, i.e., T2 treatment. Comparison
of yields for sweet potato showed that irrigation with blended
water maintained yields 62 and 75% for treatments T3 and T2
respectively, compared to irrigation with fully desalinated water
(T1=14, 8 ton/ha) [10-12].
However, the economic and environmental costs of using
desalinated water in production may not be the most attractive
in the short to medium term. Desalinated water can be used
to alleviate the salinization of soils by washing them or to
increase the availability of water for irrigation by mixing it with
brackish water. The precipitation that occurred during the trials
contributed to leaching salts to deeper areas. The negative effects
of using desalinated water on tomato production can be mitigated
by irrigating with blended water (T2 and T3). In this research,
the results show that irrigating salinized, light textured soils with
desalinated water (T1) has detrimental effects on tomato plant
productivity, quality and average weight of its fruit. The treatment
(T1) proved to be the most effective on sweet potato crops and
their tubers. The use of pure brackish water, treatment (T4), is not
recommended for most horticultural crops, because besides the
negative impact on irrigated soils, it endangers their salinity and
consequently their fertility. Based on the results of this research
it is concluded that several issues still need to be investigated, namely: (i) the effect of desalinated water and water movement
in light and heavy textured soils along the soil profile; (ii) the
amount of fertilizer needed under different levels of water and
soil salinity; (iii) air, water and soil temperature and their effect on
soil electrical conductivity; (iv) the influence of pH on results and
electrical conductivity, soil texture its influence on the amount of
available moisture; (v) cultural practices and water management,
namely losses and waste of water in irrigation among others.
Salinity is only one component of water quality assessment
Once much appreciated by consumers of a restricted area
of eastern Sicily, Chondrachantus teedei, known by the dialectal
name “Màuru”, is now hardly available due to an ever smaller
presence along the coasts of the distribution range, mainly due
to changes undergone over the years by the chosen environment,
probably due to various forms of pollution. This greatly limited
the investigation possibilities of this research, the results of which
concerned only some parameters of the chemical composition of
the alga. Like red algae of the same species and of other species,
Chondrachantus teedei has a composition in macronutrients
characterized, on average, by a good level of total carbohydrates
and protein and a high ash content; in particular, the protein is of
good nutritional value due to its high content of essential amino
acids; the ashes have a balanced ratio (equal to 1) between the
most represented macroelements, ie sodium and potassium,
and high quantities of iodine, between the microelements.
The restoration of the good conditions of the natural habitat of
Chondrachantus teedei could allow a greater presence of the
alga in the distribution area and create the conditions for further
desirable more in-depth investigations on the species. These
investigations could concern: 1) the acidic characterization of the
lipid component; 2) the presence of bioactive compounds; 3) the
presence of heavy metals; 4) the detection of seasonal and / or
environmental variations on nutritional characteristics.
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