The invasive kelp Undaria pinnatifida: a prominent Asian food source spreading in European waters

The Asian kelp Undaria pinnatifida represents a seaweed species, which is extensively cultivated as food source in Chinese coastal waters and plays an important role in human nutrition in China and Japan (“wakame” in Japan, “qundaicai” in Chinese). At the same time, outside its native distributional range U.pinnatifida represents a rapidly spreading invasive species, with the potential to outcompete the respective native marine flora. Its northern distributional limit in European waters is currently at the Dutch coastline and a further spread into the German Bight is to be expected soon.

This project funded by the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion (CDZ) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) will experimentally explore Undaria´s responses to changing environmental parameters (temperature, radiation and nutrients) and use this information to predict its capacity for future bioinvasion in European waters and to improve aquaculturing techniques in its native range.

The project is a cooperation between the Key Laboratory of Experimental Marine Biology at the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Qingdao, China) under direction of Prof. Dr. Shaojun Pang and the Department of Marine Botany at the University of Bremen (Germany).

Undaria on cultivation lines; © Universität Bremen
Undaria pinnatifida (left, right), Saccharina japonica (middle); © Universität Bremen