Mexican researchers turn Quintana Roo sargassum problem into a profitable solution

Alfonso Larqué Saavedra, twice winner of the National Award in Science and Food, assured EFE that the mushrooms that sprouted from the sargassum are entirely edible, as well as having a high nutritional value.

“Our task is to demonstrate that science can effectively be a lever of development and that the Mexican has the capacity to give alternatives,” said the researcher.

Mexican researchers managed to growedible fungi on a sargasso substrate to try to prove that the algae that threatens Mexican beaches can also be “a blessing,” said Alfonso Larqué Saavedra.

Twice winner of the National Award in Science and Food, Larqué assured EFE that the mushrooms that sprouted from the sargassum are entirely edible, as well as having a high nutritional value.

Since last year, sargassum has become an ecological problem for the coasts of the Mexican Caribbean that can affect the ecosystem and tourism and also involves huge costs to remove it.


Due to the overheating of the waters of the Caribbean Sea and the badly treated waste that humans generate, sargassum has tended to discharge and has arrived in large quantities on the shore of the state beaches.

The research of the Center for Scientific Research of Yucatan (CICY) and the College of Postgraduates, Puebla (Colpos), proved that sargassum can be used as a substrate to grow edible fungi such as mushrooms.

The expert noted that, after the arrival of sargasso in 2018, they decided to test if this seaweed could serve as a substrate – the surface on which a plant lives – and a high efficiency was observed since 800 kilograms of mushrooms were grown from a ton, one of the fungi commonly consumed in Mexico.


Sargassum is a type of brown marine macroalga. 

He said that after the success of the crop they sought to disclose that what is seen as an environmental contingency may have economic potential for the Mexican Caribbean region.

“We are going to produce edible mushrooms with a high protein content, with many vitamins and advantages, using something not anticipated,” he said.

The expert indicated that now the task is to share the information with the private sector and the authorities of the state of Quintana Roo to see if it is viable to develop this agro-industry.

“Our task is to demonstrate that science can effectively be a lever of development and that the Mexican has the capacity to give alternatives,” said the researcher .

Larqué said he was certain that it is possible to turn around the panorama of concern that exists regarding the sargassum, since this year a massive arrival to the coasts is expected in the coming months.


The beaches of Quintana Roo are experiencing a crisis due to the presence of sargasso

“We can capitalize on what nature is giving us, because the most difficult and most expensive is the production of biomass and biomass (sargasso), then, it reached the Mexican coasts and now we are going to see how we take advantage of all that”, he added.

Larqué indicated that once the stages of development and confirmation of the culture in the sargassum of the edible fungi, with high protein and vitamin level, can now be scaled.

“Do it in larger dimensions to be done in situ , ie in Quintana Roo, which is where the biomass is and give us the facilities so that it can be done there and not here in Mérida or in another part of the country.”

He reiterated that the nutritional capacity of those mushrooms grown in sargassum is good and said that he himself and his colleagues who participate in this initiative have tried them and what is sensational is that there is nothing to worry about.

Studies show that it is a food lacking in heavy metals such as arsenic, which “is in the European coasts, because everything is thrown into the sea, and the algae and everything else is full of metals.”

The scientist expressed his concern that society has alternatives and expects him to realize that Mexican science has the capacity to address major national problems “so that solutions from other countries are not imported, that they come to tell us what to do”.

In other places they use pesticides, transgenic, “I do not know how many things to produce food and it turns out that we in this laboratory are really committed to trying to use biodiversity, to produce precisely food without destroying the environment, or affecting it least possible, “he stressed.

Source: sinembargo, EFE

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