Macroalgae are one of the oldest multi-cellular lifeforms found in Earth’s fossil record, dating back at least 555 million years. Although we tend to refer to macroalgae in general as seaweed and our edible species as sea vegetables, only the green and red macroalgae are related to plants; the brown algae (kelps) are classified in the Kingdom Chromista. Humans are more closely related to fungi than brown algae are to red or green algae!
The first recorded human use of seaweed for food and medicine dates back to 3,000 BC in China, though there's evidence we’ve used this rich natural resource for far longer. Chinese scholars and indigenous peoples have long studied seaweed but western science didn't address it in a systematic fashion until the late 18th century, when the first macroalgae species was described and given a Latin name by Pehr Osbeck in 1757. Over 12,000 seaweed species have been described since. Phycology (the study of algae) became a recognized field in the late 19th century, and in 1952 seaweed science came of age with the First International Seaweed Symposium (ISS) held in Edinburgh Scotland. The ISS has held 23 meetings since then, and scores of seaweed books, several major Phycology journals, and thousands of scientific articles have been published.
Despite this wealth of information there is still much we don’t know about seaweed, and new findings continue to be published every year on these ancient life forms. Many, but fortunately not all, of the respected science publications require purchase, a paid subscription, or can only be accessed through an academic institution. Below, we provide links to some free, open access science articles & resources that we’ve found helpful, arranged by topic. Most of them touch upon or relate to the eight species we sell, while others offer a global perspective and cover broader topics such as food or the seaweed industry around the world. Articles were chosen for their informational value, but they don’t all necessarily reflect our point of view or the unique set of sustainable harvesting and processing practices that we’ve developed over 30 years.
You’ll need Adobe Acrobat (still free for now) or another PDF program to read most of these articles. Some links open to the article itself and others lead to a journal site where you can click on the PDF icon to either read or download the article. Please let us know if you have difficulty with any of the links.
Biology and Ecology
Macroalgae identification and fundamental biology & ecology.
- Field Guide to Marine Plants and Algae of Acadia National Park
- The Science of Seaweeds
- Kelp Forest Ecosystems
Seaweed Ecosystem ServicesLearn about the important roles seaweed plays in ocean ecology and global climate.
- How kelp naturally combats global climate change
- Can Seaweed Farming Play a Role in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation?
- Forensic carbon accounting: Assessing the role of seaweeds for carbon sequestration. 2022. Hurd, et al.
How is seaweed sustainably managed and harvested around the world?
- Dulse ecology on harvested and non-harvested shores
- The Seaweed Resources of Eastern Canada
- FAO Guide to the Seaweed Industry
- Sustainable harvesting of wild seaweed resources
- Seaweed Industry in France
Rockweed is Maine's most abundantly harvested seaweed for use in human, animal, and plant nutrition and health. However, rockweed harvesting is controversial in some quarters. The below articles address some of the concerns raised by critics, dispel some of the myths, and describe the beneficial uses of rockweed in agriculture.
Morphology of Ascophyllum nodosum in relation to commercial
harvesting in New Brunswick, Canada
Biomass and height of Ascophyllum nodosum after two decades
of continuous commercial harvesting in eastern Canada
Bed-scale impact and recovery of a commercially important
- Ascophyllum nodosum-Based Biostimulants: Sustainable Applications in Agriculture for the Stimulation of Plant Growth, Stress Tolerance, and Disease Management
- The Future of the Public Trust: The Muddied Waters of Rockweed Management in Maine
Processing and Flavor Science
How are sea vegetables processed and what gives them their unique flavor?
- Umami taste, free amino acid composition, and volatile compounds of brown seaweeds
Sea vegetables are a nutritional powerhouse. These articles explain why and how.
- Food or fad? Challenges and opportunities for including seaweeds in a Nordic diet
- Nutritional value of proteins from edible seaweed Palmaria palmata (dulse)
- Seaweeds for Food and Industrial Applications
- Algae as nutritional and functional food sources: revisiting our understanding
- A review of the nutrient composition of selected edible seaweeds
Sea vegetables may be one of the few vegetative sources of vitamin B12 and is a favorite food of vegetarians for that reason.
- Characterization and bioavailability of vitamin B12 compounds from edible algae
- Vitamin B12 containing plant food sources for vegetarians
- Trends in analysis of vitamin B12
Therapeutic Uses of seaweed
Asian and indigenous cultures have long valued sea vegetables for their healing properties. Modern science is showing why.
- Bioactive Potential and Possible Health Effects of Edible Brown Seaweeds
- National Library of Medicine Seaweeds as a Functional Ingredient for a Healthy Diet
- Seaweeds as neutraceuticals for health and nutrition
Anticancer properties of seaweed
Seaweed has been shown in the lab to have anticancer properties, though studies have yet to confirm this in human subjects.
- The potential of seaweed as a source of drugs for use in cancer chemotherapy
- Anticancer Effects of Different Seaweeds on Human Colon and Breast Cancers
- Fucoidan and Cancer: A Multifunctional Molecule with Anti-Tumor Potential
- Fucoidan as a Marine Anticancer Agent in Preclinical Development
- Seaweed Prevents Breast Cancer?
Antimicrobial properties of seaweed
Bioactive compounds found in seaweed have antimicrobial properties.
- Antimicrobial Action of Compounds from Marine Seaweed
- Sulfated polysaccharides effectively inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in vitro
- Sulfated Seaweed Polysaccharides as Antiviral Agents
Sea vegetables are one of the highest sources of naturally occurring iodine, an essential human nutrient, found in food.
- Iodine: National Institutes of Health
- Variability of iodine content in common commercially available edible seaweeds.
Are trace levels of heavy metals found in sea vegetables and other foods a health concern?
- Minerals in edible seaweed: health benefits and food safety issues
- FAO Report of the Expert Meeting on Food Safety for Seaweed Current Status and Future Perspectives
Seaweed aquaculture, or mariculture, is one of the world's fastest growing agricultural sectors. Most of the seaweed used today by humans is farmed.
- A seaweed aquaculture imperative to meet global sustainability targets
- New England Seaweed Culture Handbook
- Dulse and halibut aquaculture
- Can Seaweed Farming Play a Role in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation?
- Intensive land-based production of red and green macroalgae for human consumption in the Pacific Northwest
- Seaweed aquaculture: cultivation technologies, challenges and its ecosystem services
How will predicted climate change affect the distribution and abundance of seaweed?
- Fisheries management in a changing climate
- Changes in the range of some rocky shore species in Britain in response to climate change
- Projected 21st‐century distribution of canopy‐forming seaweeds in the Northwest Atlantic with climate change
World Wide Web
Seaweed science and information resources on the world wide web.
- The Seaweed Site: information on marine algae
- Maine Seaweed Exchange
- Maine Seaweed Council
- Journal of Phycology https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/15298817
- Journal of Applied Phycology https://link.springer.com/journal/10811
- Phycologia https://www.tandfonline.com/journals/uphy20
- The International Seaweed Association. https://isaseaweed.org/ The ISA is an international organization dedicated to encouraging research and development of seaweed and seaweed products, and sponsor of the International Seaweed Symposium held every 3 years at various locations around the world.
- Phycological Society of America. http://www.psaalgae.org/ The Phycological Society of America (PSA) was founded in 1946 to promote research and teaching in all fields of Phycology. The society publishes the Journal of Phycology and the Phycological Newsletter.
- International Phycological Society. http://intphycsociety.org/ Founded in 1960, the mission of the IPS is to develop phycology; distribute phycological information; and foster international cooperation among phycologists and phycological societies. The IPS publishes the journal Phycologia