Chemosensory properties of different Ulva extracts and their effects on Tripneustes gratilla

Bachelor Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Identifying the chemical compounds that attract urchins to seaweeds will increase sea urchin aquaculture efficiency as these compounds can be utilized in the production of artificial feeds enhancing their attractiveness and palatability. This study investigated the chemosensory preferences of the tropical sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla for four crude extracts of Ulva as well as Fresh Ulva and an artificial feed. The four crude extracts of Ulva (Methanolic, Ethanolic, Chloroform and Chloroform-Methanol extracts) were tested by pair-wise chemosensory trials in a Y shaped maze. Urchins were significantly deterred by both the Chloroform and Chloroform- Methanol extracts as well as the solvent controls and artificial feed, however T. gratilla was significantly attracted to both the Methanolic and Ethanolic extracts. These two extracts were tested individually against Ulva and the urchins could not distinguish between Ulva and the extracts. When these two extracts were tested against one another it was found that the urchins were significantly attracted to the Methanolic extract. The Methanolic extract was then added to the artificial feed and significantly improved the feeds attractability. This indicates that these extracts, or the compounds which are responsible for this effect, can be incorporated into artificial feeds thereby making them more attractive to the sea urchin. The percentage yield of Ulva that each solvent extracted was different, although only the Ethanolic extract was found to be significantly different from the Chloroform and Chloroform-Methanol extracts. Future studies are needed to examine the chemical composition of these specific chemosensory compounds. By incorporating these attractive extracts into artificial feeds, South Africa can potentially improve the cultivation success of T. gratilla therefore expanding the economy of the local aquaculture industry through the export of this highly valued seafood product.

Includes bibliographical references.