Taste of the sea on the plate

The term plankton, from the Greek plankton (“drifting”), was proposed in 1887 by the marine biologist at the University of Kiel Victor Hensen. Aware of the importance of these tiny wandering organisms, he secured funding to carry out an extensive study on a global scale. Thus, on July 15, 1889, the Plankton Expedition departed from Kiel, an oceanographic research project that would shed light on the diversity and ecological importance of these inhabitants of the blue planet.

Today we distinguish four types of plankton: phytoplankton, which carries out photosynthesis and is associated with microalgae; zooplankton, of an animal nature; bacterioplankton, made up of bacteria and the key to decomposition, and virioplankton, made up of viruses and of great ecological importance. Plankton is very sensitive to any change in the environment, so it is widely used to obtain information about the conservation status of an ecosystem.

In addition to the pharmaceutical and cosmetic sectors, plankton is also finding applications in the field of food. At first it was used only in the production of fish food in aquariums and fish farms, but for a few years it has also been used in gastronomic preparations. The feat is due to the company Fitoplancton Marino, which since 2008 has proposed to bring a microalgae, Tetraselmis chuii, to human food consumption. After identifying this species at the Veta la Palma aquaculture farm, in the Doñana Natural Park, they investigated ways to improve the efficiency of its cultivation.

In 2014 they obtained permission from the European authorities to market their marine plankton, which was classified as a “new food product” (novel food) – an authorization that is very difficult to obtain since, for food safety reasons, it requires compliance with certain requirements. very strict.

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