Document Type: Original Article
Department of Oceanography and Limnology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Via Costeira, Praia de Mãe Luiza, s/n, Natal, RN, 59014-002, Brazil
Department of Biochemistry, São Paulo University, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, 748, São Paulo, SP, 05508-000, Brazil
Species of the genus Gracilaria are widely distributed around the world, and many are wild harvested and cultivated for phycocolloid production (agar) and human food. This study investigated the growth performance of three color strains of Gracilaria domingensis in an integrated organic system. The three chromatic variants (red, green, and brown) were cultured in a shrimp farm at two depths (surface and 20 cm). The highest relative growth rates were obtained in the first week of cultivation for all three strains studied. Although the growth rates and biomass were slightly higher at a depth of 20 cm, significant differences were not observed at different depths (p < 0.05). The growth of the three strains varied significantly over time (p < 0.001). The maximal growth values obtained were 11.25 ± 1.50% day−1 (red), 12.76 ± 3.96% day−1 (green), and 7.86 ± 1.75% day−1 (brown). The mean growth rates for the whole period were 4.63 ± 6.97, 3.38 ± 9.09, and 2.16 ± 6.61% day−1 for the red, green, and brown strains, respectively. The pigment content (chlorophyll a, phycocyanin, and phycoerythrin) of the three strains studied was higher at a depth of 20 cm, while the maximum electron transport rate (ETRmax) and photosynthetic efficiency were higher at the surface. The high growth rates obtained in this study demonstrate the great potential of this species for integrated organic farming. Moreover, the ecological success shown by the red strain suggests that this strain is the most suitable for integrated cultivation.