Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Selective breeding for sterile sugar kelp

Growing seaweeds as a solution to our modern-day challenges is a hot topic. Seaweeds capture a lot of carbon and can provide us with nutritious food and biomaterials, while no land, freshwater and nutrients or pesticides are needed. Seaweed farming can, thus, be an interesting alternative for land-based agriculture. Providing seaweed farmers with the right seaweed seeding material is key in further developing the industry. 

This research focuses on selective breeding for the seaweed ‘sugar kelp’. By making crosses with worldwide genetic varieties, we aim to produce a high-yielding and protein-rich sugar kelp cultivar that farmers can use. To prevent genetic material from distant locations spreading in the environment, we are also looking at creating sterile sugar kelp that does not produce any seeds; just like bananas and citrus fruits. In this way, we can harness the full potential of the genetic variation found in nature.


We are looking for applied sciences or university students with a great interest in seaweed (or plant) physiology and morphology and/or cell biology and/or chemistry. We offer internship projects focusing on various specific topics. As a (graduation) intern you will be experimenting with a wide range of sugar kelp crosses and compare them for their performance. This may be morphologically as well as biochemically. We are also trying to link their performance during all life stages to come up with early indicators for good performance. This means you may be busy with both lab work as well as tank experiments. A basic understanding of seaweed biology and basic lab skills are a plus. The work will primarily take place at NIOZ-Yerseke. A minimum internship period of 4 months is required. A guesthouse within walking distance from the institute is available.


For more information about the project and to apply, please contact PhD student Job Cohen ( or Prof. Dr Klaas Timmermans ( 

Relevant publications

Goecke, F., Klemetsdal, G., & Ergon, Å. (2020). Cultivar development of kelps for commercial cultivation—past lessons and future prospects. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8, 110.

Umanzor, S., Li, Y., Bailey, D., Augyte, S., Huang, M., Marty‐Rivera, M., ... & Lindell, S. (2021). Comparative analysis of morphometric traits of farmed sugar kelp and skinny kelp, Saccharina spp., strains from the Northwest Atlantic. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 52(5), 1059-1068.