Marine algae provide important ecosystem services. Globally, these organisms are responsible for the production of about half of the atmospheric oxygen generated each year, the majority of this production being generated by planktonic micro-algae.
Planktonic micro-algae also play key roles in other global geochemical cycles, including the carbon cycle. In coastal regions, brown and red macro-algae are the dominant species, where they support a broad range of other marine organisms. The macro-algae that grow in coastal regions also represent an economic resource that is increasingly being exploited and domesticated in the partner countries.
Both planktonic and coastal algal populations are affected by global climate change and related processes such as ocean acidification. Moreover, coastal algae are also affected by additional anthropogenic influences such as pollution and coastal development.
Despite the global importance of algae and the potential consequences of modifications to algal-based biosystems, we still have only a limited understand of how these systems function, their resilience to modifications to their environments and their potential for economic development.
The objective of this project is to create synergistic interactions between algal biologists in three partner countries (France, Chile and Brazil) to improve our understanding of algal biosystems both to estimate their susceptibility to modifications to their environments and to explore their potential for sustainable economic development.
The project will establish links with relevant initiatives in each of the partner countries. For example, substantial projects are underway in Chile to develop macro-algal culture techniques for biofuel production (for example by the company BAL Biofuels in Chile). In France, a large-scale research and development project ("Idealg"; http://www.idealg.ueb.eu/) has recently been financed by the government's Investment for the Future ("Investissement d'Avenir") program.
This project brings together research laboratories and companies to foster projects that will develop sustainable economic uses of algae. In each partner country the GDRI project will build on strong national initiatives.