‘Micro Island – Connemara’ runner up in EU competition highlights research of seaweeds in bio-economy

Micro Island - Connemara. Photograph by Tomasz SzumskiTomasz Szumski, marine researcher at the Marine Institute was recently awarded runner-up for his photograph 'Micro Island – Connemara' that was entered into the EU funded CommBeBiz competition on "New perspectives on the Bio-economy", where he provided technical and photographic support to Dr Jenny Ronan from Marine Institute, Galway, during sampling and subsampling of the seaweed for the project, 'AsMARA'.

AsMARA (arsenic in marine macro algae) is a 3-year project, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine's Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM), and is a collaboration between the Marine Institute involving Dr Evin McGovern, P.I. and NUI Galway Dr Dagmar Stengel, P.I. to research seaweeds found in Ireland and assess their implications for commercial uses.

Over 100 scientists from across nine European countries entered the photo contest to highlight aspects of their research that supports the development of the European Bio-economy to reduce the EU's dependency on fossil resources and contribute to producing environmentally friendly renewable products that meet our needs for food, materials and energy.

With the ocean representing over 70% of the earth's surface, living marine resources such as seaweeds can provide a significant contribution to food, energy and bio-based products. "In Ireland, there is a long tradition of using seaweeds and an increasing international interest in developing this resource into a range of products such as foods, fertilisers, animal feed and cosmetics," explained Tomasz Szumski.

Through this research, the Marine Institute is evaluating the variability in the levels of organic and inorganic forms of arsenic in commercially harvested seaweed species to ensure their safety for such uses as food supplements and cosmetic components. The information generated supports innovation of blue biotechnologies, as well as assisting policy makers in risk management for consumer protection, as needed.

The 2017 photo competition is sponsored by Minerva Communications UK Ltd, the lead partner in the CommBeBiz project. The photos are being exhibited online on European project websites including the CommBeBiz project website and the BioStep Project website, as well as in 'Horizon Magazine, the European Commission's Research & Innovation Magazine'. The photos were also displayed in a digital gallery at Europe House, the Representation of the European Commission in the UK, at the recent CommBeBiz workshops held in London. The CommBeBiz photo competition is an annual event and entries for the 2018 edition will open on the 1st May, 2017.