Structural analysis of carrageenan from farmed varieties of Philippine seaweed

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Kappaphycus alvarezii, Eucheuma denticulatum and, more recently, Kappaphycus sp. ‘Sacol’ variety, are the carrageenan-containing red seaweeds currently farmed in the Philippines. The Kappaphycus sp. ‘Sacol’ variety is of particular interest to the Philippine seaweed industry because of its improved resistance to ‘ice-ice’ disease and its fast growing characteristics. Here we report on the detailed chemical analysis of the carrageenan from this species. The native and alkali-modified carrageenans from Kappaphycus sp. ‘Sacol’ variety were characterized by FT-IR, 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy, and constituent sugar and methylation analyses and were compared to those from K. alvarezii, K. cottonii and Eucheuma denticulatum. The three Kappaphycus species contained predominantly κ-carrageenan with low levels of ι-carrageenan, methylated carrageenan and μ-precursor residues, while Eucheuma denticulatum contained predominantly ι-carrageenan with significant amounts of ν-precursor residues. Taxonomic classification of Kappaphycus species based on morphology has proved to be difficult because of their known plasticity. Molecular analysis using the rbcLsequence revealed that the Kappaphycus sp. ‘Sacol’ variety is most likely a form of K. cottonii.