Gracilaria debilis cultivation, agar characterization and economics: bringing new species in the ambit of commercial farming in India

  • V. VeeragurunathanEmail author
  • Kamalesh Prasad
  • J. Malar Vizhi
  • Nripat Singh
  • Ramavatar Meena
  • Vaibhav A. Mantri


Gracilaria debilis (Forsskål) Børgesen, an economically important red alga, was cultivated for 2 years by a floating bamboo raft method from November 2014 to October 2016 along the southeastern coast of India in order to evaluate possibilities for its year-round cultivation. This was achieved by analyzing biomass yield, growth rate, and agar properties from each harvest. Bench-scale agar characterization and economics were calculated for the first time for G. debilis. Higher biomass yields were recorded during first harvest (November–December) of both the first (11.02 ± 2.08 kg fr.wt m−2) and second (7.17 ± 3.95 kg fr.wt m−2) years. Similarly, higher growth rate was recorded during the first harvest of the first (3.59 ± 0.4% day−1) and second (4.17 ± 0.96% day−1) year, respectively. Biomass yield and DGR were at their minima during monsoon season (i.e., July–August). There was no clear trend pertaining to yield and gel strength of the extracted agar which were in the range of 14–32.6% and 300–866 g cm-2, respectively. This study confirmed that year-round cultivation of G. debilis is possible in Indian waters using the raft culture method with six harvest cycles per annum. The annual income for a single operator was estimated to be US$141, while break-event point per hectare could be achieved after 126 days.


Gracilaria Rhodophyta Agar Biomass Economics Growth rate 



Authors acknowledged SERB (DST, EMR/2016/004944) and A&ES&CIF, CSIR-CSMCRI for sample analysis. The authors expressed their sincere thanks to Dr. C.R.K. Reddy, former Divisional Chair, Discipline of Marine Biotechnology and Ecology, CSMCRI, for his keen interest in the work. We also thank Dr. P. K. Agarwal, Divisional Chair, Biotechnology and Phycology Division, Dr. K. Eswaran, Scientist-in-charge, for facilities. The authors expressed their sincere thanks to Dr. Amitva Das, Director, CSMCRI, for his encouragement to pursue this work. This contribution has CSIR-CSMCRI PRIS registration number 058/2018.


This study is financially supported by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi, under in-house project (OLP-0075).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Veeragurunathan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kamalesh Prasad
    • 2
    • 3
  • J. Malar Vizhi
    • 1
  • Nripat Singh
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ramavatar Meena
    • 2
    • 3
  • Vaibhav A. Mantri
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.CSIR-CSMCRI-Marine Algal Research StationMandapamIndia
  2. 2.Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), CSIRNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.CSIR-Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research InstituteBhavnagarIndia

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