The University of Auckland
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HVN 1901 Metadata Record - He tipu moana he oranga tangata: Revealing karengo as a high-value functional food.

posted on 2024-04-19, 04:39 authored by Tom Wheeler

This metadata record and it's attached files make statements about the kinds of data collected as part of this research, and set out policies for governance of that data, now and in the future.

Description: This research programme was a collaboration between Cawthron Institute and two major South Island Māori enterprises, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Wakatū Incorporation. The teams worked together to study the potential of a modern, high-value industry based around karengo, a type of native edible seaweed.

Karengo was sampled from several sites around the South Island to determine the content of micronutrients and other health-promoting substances. The project team established key analytical procedures for reliable species identification and bioactive composition analyses. Cawthron researchers Paul South and Rita Lee have been cataloguing Karengo samples, taking microscope slides and photos of cellular structure and completing a DNA sequence-based identification of each Karengo species. Morphologies of specimens analysed thus far were highly variable and genetic analyses identified 5 species and 2 genera from the 11 samples of Karengo analysed. Overall, there were two species in the genus Porphyra and 3 species in Pyropia. This initial work suggests there is a high diversity of Karengo species on the east coast of the South Island. Using advanced techniques, the team will also look for unexpected or newly discovered substances in karengo that may contribute to its health-promoting effects. Finally, the biological effects that extracts from karengo have on living systems will be determined, in order to understand how they might contribute to the health-promoting effects of karengo.

The team found that karengo contains 30-35% protein as a percentage of dry weight – which could be a higher level of protein than any terrestrial food plant, 2% omega-3 fatty acids, almost all of which is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and up to 70 ug/100g vitamin B12. This last observation is of particular interest to the team, as it predicts that as little as a 5 g snack of karengo would provide the recommended daily allowance of this vitamin. This is particularly relevant for vegans, who often have difficulty obtaining adequate levels of vitamin B12 through their diet. (Source: Wheeler, T. (2022, August 16). Are New Zealand native Pyropia and Porphyra seaweeds (karengo) an opportunity for creating high-value foods from alternative proteins? Originally published in the June/July issue of Food New Zealand Magazine).

The outputs of this programme are likely to lead to further research to optimise karengo cultivation and commercial-scale production in the Aotearoa New Zealand setting. In addition, the project will investigate the best approaches to incorporating karengo as a high-value ingredient in premium manufactured foods.



University of Auckland

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HVN Project / Programme Name


Data access requirements

Please contact the Principal Investigator with any data enquiries.

Principal investigator organisation

Cawthron Institute

Collaborating researchers and affiliations

Principal Investigator: - Dr Tom Wheeler, Senior Scientist, Cawthron Institute, Nelson Investigators: - Donato Romanazzi (Cawthron Institute) - Dr Olivier Gasser (Malaghan Institute of Medical Research) - Dr Karl Fraser (AgResearch Ltd) - Professor Masashi Hosokawa (Hokkaido University)

Data description

Development of analytical procedures for reliable species identification Survey and samples of karengo at several locations and times over two winters Images of cellular structure DNA sequence-based identification of Karengo species Bioactive composition analyses Digestibility and bioavailability of protein extracts Physico-chemical attributes of protein extracts Metabolomic analysis among Karengo species Please contact the Principal Investigator for a full data description.

Principal investigator contact email

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