The Power of Norwegian Seaweed
Seaweeds growing in challenging environments have developed, since their presence in the Oceans, biochemical means to face biotic and abiotic stresses. The resulting molecules have a great potential as active ingredients for humans. In this article we underline the importance of 5 classes of substances in brown seaweeds, starting from their ecological role and getting to the functions they may have for human health, not forgetting that we are only at the beginning of the story, needing further testing and information to try to get the full picture of those truly ancient inhabitants of the Seven Seas.
Algae are a wide group of photosynthetic organisms with a very long history, characterized more by the lack of structural similarities with higher green plants than by their commonality of character (1). Although algae number only about 50000 species worldwide (microalgae included), they may well be the most diverse group of organism alive today (2, 3). Diversity exists not only in morphological and reproductive features, but also in complex life phenomena and in exotic physiological and biochemical properties (4). In this article, we will focus our attention on macroalgae, and on brown Atlantic algae in particular, that grow abundant in the Norwegian sea. Unlike the land plants, algae have no roots, leaves or vascular systems: in fact, they nourish themselves through the process of osmosis (5). Norwegian brown seaweeds (Phaeophyceae), such as Fucales, Ascophyllum nodosum, Pelvetia canaliculata, living in the intertidal zone, and Laminariales, Laminaria digitata, Laminaria hyperborea, Saccharina latissima, Alaria esculenta, living in the subtidal zone, experience very strong environmental conditions that may affect their chemical composition ...