Macro Algae and Halophytes

Salicornia europaea, a halophyte.
Photo: M. Fitzner, IGZ

Driven by the increasing global population growth and the related environmental changes, e.g. decrease of drinking water, available agricultural areas and soil salinization, there is a rising interest in alternative plant-based food sources. Based on the two extreme scenarios "No Land“ and "No Trade“ and the limited availability of fresh water, this food4future sub-project focuses on the use of macro algae and halophytes as salt tolerant food sources.

While the consumption of halophytes so far has been neglected, macro algae already play an important role in human nutrition, especially in Asian countries. Moreover, they have recently entered the Central European Cuisine as "sea greens" or “sea vegetables” with increasing acceptance.

Mixed macro algal community: red, green and brown algae originally from the Helgoland coast. Photo: A. Fricke, IGZ

To investigate the nutritional-physiological potential of the two macrophytic groups – algae and salt tolerant plants – and to establish appropriate cultivation methodologies, our project focuses on the study of macrophytic physiological responses. Here, we investigate growth, photosynthetic efficiency, chemical composition in artificially created cultivation conditions by variation of different parameters such as salinity, pH, nutrient composition, light spectra or light intensity. Targeted changes in cultivation conditions can lead to an increased production of nutritionally valuable secondary plant metabolites such as carotenoids in the macrophytes, thus contributing to a healthy plant-based diet.

The overall aim is the development of macroalgae and halophyte cultivation in a closed land-based containment system and their use for human consumption. In cooperation with the other food4future partners, innovative sustainable ecological production systems shall be developed, allowing the integrative production of healthy, nutritional macro algae and halophyte biomass in urban areas. In addition to optimizing the production of individual organisms, efficient and flexible co-cultivation compartment systems are to be developed for all four food4future organisms.

Text: M. Fitzner, S. Baldermann, IGZ

Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ)
Theodor-Echtermeyer-Weg 1
14979 Großbeeren


Project duration
March 2019 - February 2024

Interaction with f4f and associated partners
ADM Wild Europe GmbH & Co. KG, InnoMat GmbH, Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH

portrait of Prof. Dr. Susanne Baldermann

Prof. Dr. Susanne Baldermann

PI | Leader Research Field I
T +49 (0) 33701 78 241

Prof. Dr. Susanne Baldermann is group leader of the research group „Food Chemistry and Human Nutrition“ in the programme area "Plant Quality and Food Security" at the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ). In food4future she is in charge of the Research Field I - Organisms and heads the Project "Macro Agae & Halophytes".

portrait of Prof. Dr. Monika Schreiner

Prof. Dr. Monika Schreiner

PI | Coordinator
T +49 (0) 33701 78 304

Prof. Dr Monika Schreiner is head of the programme area "Plant Quality and Food Security" at Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ) and holds a honorary professorship of the Leibniz University Hannover. She focuses on elucidating and influencing the plant secondary metabolism with the aim of its optimisation for human nutrition. Prof. Schreiner coordinates the food4future consortium and is also involved in the subproject Macroalgae and Halophytes. In addition, she is head of the central coordination office of the Agricultural Systems of the Future funding line.

portrait of Dr. Anna Fricke

Dr. Anna Fricke

T +49 (0) 33701 78 305

Dr. Anna Fricke is a scientist in the programme area "Plant Quality and Food Security" at the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ). In food4future she is responsible for the cultivation and further investigation of potential applications of macro algae in the food industry.

portrait of Maria Fitzner

Maria Fitzner

PhD Student
T +49 (0) 33701 78 161

Maria Fitzner is a PhD student in the programme area "Plant Quality and Food Security" at the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ). Her thesis be about understanding and optimizing the cultivation of halophytes in artificial environments and the impact of growth conditions on nutritional profiles.


Development of integrative land-based macroalgal cultivation
Poster video A. Fricke et al., Seagriculture Conference 2020


Fricke A, Harbart V, Schreiner M, Baldermann S. (2023). A proof of concept for inland production of the “sea-vegetable” Ulva compressa in Brandenburg (Central Europe) using regional saline groundwater. (Algal Research).

Fitzner M, Schreiner M and Baldermann S. (2023) Comprehensive Characterization of selected phytochemicals and minerals of selected edible halophytes grown in saline indoor farming for future food production. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis

Fitzner MSchreiner M, Baldermann S. (2023) The interaction of salinity and light regime modulates photosynthetic pigment content in edible halophytes in greenhouse and indoor farming. Frontiers in Plant Science.

Fricke A., Psarianos M., Sabban J., Fitzner M., Reipsch R., Schlüter O.K.Dreyer C., Vogt J.H-M., Schreiner M. and Baldermann S. (2022) "Composite materials for innovative urban farming of alternative food sources (macroalgae and crickets). (Front. Sustain. Food Syst.)

Psarianos M., Fricke A., Ojha S., Baldermann S., Schreiner M., Schlüter O.K. (2022) Effect of Narrowband UV-B Irradiation on the Growth Performance of House Crickets (Foods)​​​​​​​

Wikandari R., Manikharda, Baldermann S., Ningrum A. & Taherzadeh M. J (2021) Application of cell culture technology and genetic engineering for production of future foods and crop improvement to strengthen food security, Bioengineered, 12:2, 11305-11330, 

Fitzner M, Fricke A, Schreiner M, Baldermann S. (2021) Utilization of Regional Natural Brines for the Indoor Cultivation of Salicornia europaeaSustainability. 13(21):12105.

Bermejo R, Buschmann A, Capuzzo E, Cottier-Cook E, Fricke A, Hernández I, Hofman LC, Rereira R, van den Burg S, Grace M, Mukherjee N, Wendling L. (2022) Report: Macoralage cultivation and ecosystem services. Eklipse Expert Working Group Macroalgae. 
Final Report (PDF)