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From Sir Joseph Banks to the world’s seaweed colloid industry: the discovery of original material and typification of the marine red alga Gloiopeltis tenax

Brodie, Juliet, Fussey, George D., Wilbraham, Jo, Guiry, Michael D.
Journal of applied phycology 2015 v.27 no.4 pp. 1535-1540
Fucus, Gloiopeltis, botanists, gelatin, hydrocolloids, industry, isolectotypes, lectotypes, macroalgae, natural history, new species, sales, China, England, Japan, Korean Peninsula
Specimens of a seaweed sent to Sir Joseph Banks in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century by a collector in China were described as a new species, Fucus tenax, by the English botanist and antiquarian Dawson Turner. This seaweed has been extensively used in Japan, China and Korea as a source of glue and gum and has been more recently employed in a wide range of specialised applications, including the conservation of antiquarian objects. Banks raised with Turner the possibility that similar species in Britain could be used for the extraction of ‘gelatine’. This was a very early recognition of the potential use of marine phycocolloids from seaweeds and ultimately led to a marine hydrocolloid industry with projected wholesale sales in excess of US$1.56 billion in 2014. Specimens of Fucus tenax Turner [the generitype of Gloiopeltis J. Agardh, now Gloiopeltis tenax (Turner) J. Agardh] discovered in the Natural History Museum, London (BM), and the Eton College Natural History Museum (ECNHM) are considered to be the material upon which the descriptions and illustrations published by Turner (Ann Bot 2:376–378, 1806; Typis J 2:72–134, 1808–1809) were based, and a lectotype (BM) and provisional isolectotypes (ECNHM) are designated here to facilitate future molecular studies of species of the genus.