2nd GoJelly Newsletter, 01. 07. 2019
WP4 & 6: Establishing protocols for handling and processing of jellyfish biomass and the development of products
Author: Ana Rotter and Katja Klun (NIB, Slovenia)
Within GoJelly project the establishment of protocols is crucial for product development. That is why the protocols are separately developed for each application to assure high quality products. The objectives of WP4 are to establish a set of protocols for handling, preserving and processing of harvested JF biomass by converting jellyfish pests into innovative prototypes as well as the assessment of the criteria for a safe use of the end products. The prototypes will be then tested and further developed within WP6. Five protocols will be developed in total for each JF biomass utilization to ensure an optimal JF biomass handling and processing:
- T4.1 Mucus collection for microplastic filter production
- T4.2 Use as fertilizers
- T4.3 Production of feed for aquaculture
- T4.4 Production of cosmetics
- T4.5 Human food production
In the current Newsletter the progress of tasks T4.1, T4.2 and T4.4 within WP4 are presented.
WP4 – T4.1: Protocol for handling of live jellyfish for mucus collection
Authors: Katja Klun (NIB, Slovenia)
What is jellyfish mucus and how is it produced?
If stressed, jellyfish can release mucus in large quantities. The main component of mucus is mucin, a glycoprotein that has various roles (moisture holder, has antimicrobial properties, acts as an adsorbent and surfactant) in almost all animals, which are indispensable for sustaining life. Mucin is defined as a polymer consisting of a single protein chain, which is connected to oligosaccharide branches.
Why is GoJelly using jellyfish mucus?
Recently, the biotechnological potential of jellyfish mucus was recognized, in particular for being able to capture nano- and potentially micro-particles, which is one of the main goals of GoJelly project. The aim is to produce a biofilter from jellyfish mucus that would capture nano- and micro- particles at the outflow of waste water treatment plants. Task 4.1 has a specific role in the preparation of this biofilter. We are preparing a protocol for handling of live jellyfish, extraction steps and storage of mucus.
We performed several experiments on mucus of two species (Rhizostoma pulmo and Aurelia aurita) (Fig. 1) to assess which storage conditions are optimal for further use of the mucus. Our results indicate that mucus needs to be collected from live jellyfish (Fig. 2) within few hours after harvesting and the mucus has to be immediately stored in the freezer for further use to prevent bacterial degradation. We will now do further testing of stored mucus capability to adsorb microparticles.
Figure 1: Rhizostoma pulmo and Aurelia aurita after harvesting.
Figure 2: Mucus extraction through the funnel.
WP4 – T4.2: Drying the jellyfish to use as an agricultural product
Author: Iraj Emadodin (CAU, Germany)
In order to use jellyfish as an agricultural product, drying process plays an important role in enhancing the quality of the product. Four recommended processes are considered (depending on jellyfish species as well as location and economic conditions) for drying jellyfish biomass. Dried jellyfish material is light (water represents 95 % of jellyfish wet mass) and thus easy to use. Each process requires special processes and equipment (Fig. 3):
- Oven drying: low temperature (~ 50 °C) is sufficient for producing suitable material
- Alcohol drying: takes less time than oven drying; during this drying process the salinity was also reduced (Fig. 4). Alcohol could affect product quality, so different alcohol-water mixtures will be further tested to choose the optimal mixture
- Sun drying is a very simple method but needs suitable conditions: air temperature, wind and protection from animals are very important
- Freeze drying: this drying activity is suitable only for small scale experiments. For large scale testing it is too expensive and time consuming
Figure 3: Different drying methods for producing Jellyfish as a fertilizer
Figure 4: Alcohol dried Jellyfish (Periphylla periphylla ) from Norway
WP4 – T4.2: Successful jellyfish transport from Slovenia to Germany in April 2019
Author: Steffen Aldag (HU, Germany)
The GoJelly project partners Hanseatic Environment (HU) and National Institute of Biology (NIB) organized the transport of jellyfish and had a bilateral experience exchange in the city of Piran in Slovenia.
To carry out further germination and growth experiments of fertilizer prototypes, the Hanseatic Environment needed new jellyfish raw material in the beginning of 2019. Instead of hiring a transport company, we decided to combine the transport of new jellyfish biomass with a bilateral partner meeting in Slovenia. Prior to the transport a wooden box was built for the transport of frozen jellyfish biomass in 10 L plastic buckets. Sea grass (Zostera marina) was successfully used as insulating material, which indicates that an environmentally friendly cooling transport could be used without active cooling and without using dry ice. Fig. 5 shows the loading of the 10 L buckets and the stuffing of the cool box with sea grass in the Slovenian coastal town Piran at Marine Biology Station (NIB).
Figure 5: Preparation of the frozen jellyfish in 10 l buckets at NIB (left) and using dry sea grass as insulation for the cooling box (right).
During the stay in Piran we planned to harvest fresh jellyfish in the Gulf of Trieste in a joint boat trip, so not only frozen but also fresh jellyfish could have been transported to Germany. But due to bad weather conditions with strong winds we were not able to sample with research vessel. At the end, only frozen jellyfish harvested by NIB were transported to Germany. Overall, we transported approx. 53 kg of jellyfish biomass, of which 26 kg were barrel jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo) and 27 kg were fried egg jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata).
During transportation (about 20 hours), the frozen jellyfish did not melt (Fig. 6 left) and after arrival at the Hanseatic Environment compost plant the cooling transport box was stored at low temperature for another 5 days. Only after 8 days the jellyfish were completely melted and prepared for further processing (Fig. 6 right).
Figure 6: Jellyfish still frozen after 20 h transport (left) and melted jellyfish after 8 days of melting in a passive cool box (right).
WP4 – T4.4: From jellyfish to cosmetics
Author: Susanne Woldmann (CRM, Germany)
Why on earth should we use jellyfishes in cosmetics? A good question many people already asked.
Here come some answers:
- Jellyfish contain 98% water and 2% protein. Half of these 2% is collagen. Collagen is a very common structural protein in the human body, including the skin.
- When we age we lose collagen in our skin and get wrinkles. Collagen has the amazing capability of cushioning wrinkles through water binding.
What is so special about jellyfish collagen?
- To gain collagen normally slaughterhouse waste or rat tails are used. These materials pose risks for diseases e.g. BSE. Jellyfish which come from the sea are free of prions and other terrestrial pathogens, and therefore don’t impose health risks.
- Moreover jellyfish collagen is very little differentiated, therefore it is capable to take over different functions and is compatible to very different cell types, as shown in laboratory cell tests.
Presently we are testing different jellyfish species for their collagen content. What is important for this task is the availability and sustainability of the source (i.e. jellyfish species) and the quality and consistency of the collagen, as well as the feasibility of processing. For the extraction of the collagen we go through various steps, that include homogenization, precipitation, protein digestion and centrifugation. Potential candidates are the following: Rhopilema esculenta, Rhopilema nomadica (a nuisance species in the eastern Mediterranean Sea), Aurelia aurita (worldwide, including Baltic Sea and North Sea) and Periphylla periphylla (which has also developed into a nuisance species in Norway).
The goal of the project is to find optimized sources and processes for collagen containing cosmetic products, by identifying 2 or 3 different jellyfish species, which might even exhibit different cosmetic properties. Paramount criteria are the sustainability and reliability of the source: no overfishing!, as short as possible transportation ways and – of course – consistently high collagen content and quality. The next development steps will focus on scaling up our results obtained so far and to start first trials in cosmetic formulations.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 774499”