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Scientific classification Edit this classification
(unranked): Archaeplastida
Division: Rhodophyta
Class: Florideophyceae
Order: Gracilariales
Family: Gracilariaceae
Genus: Gracilaria
Greville, 1830

see text

Gracilaria is a genus of red algae (Rhodophyta) notable for its economic importance as an agarophyte, as well as its use as a food for humans and various species of shellfish. Various species in the genus are cultivated among Asia, South America, Africa and Oceania.


Gracilaria contains the following subtaxa:[1]


Gracilaria are found in warm waters throughout the world, though they also occur seasonally in temperate waters. It can not tolerate temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F).[clarification needed] Gracilaria are found in all oceans except the Arctic. Their center of diversity is the Western Pacific, where they have been traditionally cultivated as a source of agar.[2][3]


Kkosiraegi-muchim (seasoned gracilaria)

Gracilaria is used as a food in Filipino, Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean and Sri Lankan cuisines.[4][5] In Japanese cuisine, it is called ogonori or ogo. In the Philippines, it is called gulaman and used to make a gelatin substitute.[6] In Jamaica, it is known as Irish moss.[7] In Korea, it is known as kkosiraegi.

Gracilaria oligosaccharides with degree of polymerization 6 prepared by agarase digestion from agar-bearing Gracilaria sp. polysaccharides have been shown to be an effective prophylactic agent during in vitro and in vivo experiments against Japanese encephalitis viral infection. The sulfated oligosaccharides from Gracilaria sp. seem to be promising candidates for further development as antiviral agents.[8]

In the Philippines, Gracilaria have been harvested and used as food for centuries, eaten both fresh or sun-dried and turned into jellies. The earliest historical attestation is from the Vocabulario de la lengua tagala (1754) by the Jesuit priests Juan de Noceda and Pedro de Sanlucar, where golaman or gulaman was defined as "una yerva, de que se haze conserva a modo de Halea, naze en la mar" ("an herb, from which a jam-like preserve is made, grows in the sea"), with an additional entry for guinolaman to refer to food made with the jelly.[9][10]

In Japan, Gracilaria has been used to produce funori (府海苔), an agar-based glue, since the 17th century.[11]

In Sri Lanka, Gracilaria has been used to make a seaweed soup that also incorporates coconut cream and lime.[5] It is also used to create seaweed jelly, a local sweetmeat in the Puttalam District of northwestern Sri Lanka.[5]

Aquarium trade[edit]

Gracilaria commonly appears as a macroalgae for sale in the aquarium trade. It is highly palatable to tangs[12] and many other herbivorous fish, and its nutrient uptake ability makes it a suitable choice for a refugium.


Gracilaria are susceptible to infection by the parasitic oomycete Pythium porphyrae.[13] Reproduction by Gracilaria gracilis is supported by Idotea balthica – the first known case of an animal helping algae reproduce.[14][15]


  1. ^ M.D. Guiry in Guiry, M.D. & Guiry, G.M. 17 September 2021. AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway. ; searched on 03 August 2022
  2. ^ McLachlan, J.; Bird, C.J. (1984). "Geographical and experimental assessment of the distribution of Gracilaria species (Rhodophyta: Gigartinales) in relation to temperature" (PDF). Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen. 38 (3–4): 319–334. Bibcode:1984HM.....38..319M. doi:10.1007/BF02027684. S2CID 20852797.
  3. ^ de Oliveira, E.C.; Plastino, E.M. (1994). "Gracilariaceae". In Akatsuka, Isamu (ed.). Biology of Economic Algae. SPB Academic Publishing. ISBN 9789051030938.
  4. ^ Kyaw, Aye, The Production of Gracilaria eduli in Burma, Report of the Training Course on Gracilaria Algae, Manila, Philippines, 1–30 April 1981, accessed 27 April 2013
  5. ^ a b c Subasinghe, S; Jayasuriya, A (1990). Gracilaria Production and Utilization in the Bay of Bengal: Report of a Seminar Held in Songkhla, Thailand, 23-27 October 1989. Bay of Bengal Programme for Fisheries Development, 1990. p. 72.
  6. ^ Davidson, Alan (2004). Seafood of South-East Asia: A Comprehensive Guide with Recipes. Ten Speed Press. p. 197. ISBN 978-1-58008-452-9.
  7. ^ Thomas J. Goreau; Robert Kent Trench (2013). Innovative Methods of Marine Ecosystem Restoration. CRC Press. pp. 193–. ISBN 978-1-4665-5773-4. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  8. ^ Kazłowski B, Chiu YH, Kazłowska K, Pan CL, Wu CJ (August 2012). "Prevention of Japanese encephalitis virus infections by low-degree-polymerisation sulfated saccharides from Gracilaria sp. and Monostroma nitidum". Food Chem. 133 (3): 866–74. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.01.106.
  9. ^ Albert H. Wells (1916). "Possibilities of Gulaman Dagat as a Substitute for Gelatin in Food". The Philippine Journal of Science. 11: 267–271.
  10. ^ de Noceda, Juan; de Sanlucar, Pedro (1754). Vocabulario de la lengua Tagala. Imprenta de la compañia de Jesus. pp. 101, 215.
  11. ^ Swider, Joseph R.; Smith, Martha (2005). "Funori: Overview of a 300-Year-Old Consolidant". Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. 44 (2): 117–126. doi:10.1179/019713605806082329. S2CID 191358224. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  12. ^ Volynkin, Alex (2013-09-28). "Growing Gracilaria Parvispora". Salt Water Reefing. Retrieved 2016-12-18. This brings me back to Achilles's diet. The guy apparently really likes Gracilaria macro algae. No wonder, especially considering that the grass is indigenous to Hawaii as well, and is considered the favorite food for tangs.
  13. ^ Spencer, M. A. (2004). "Pythium porphyrae. (Descriptions of Fungi and Bacteria)". IMI Descriptions of Fungi and Bacteria. 162 (Sheet 1617). Retrieved 10 October 2017. A description is provided for Pythium porphyrae. Information is included on the disease caused by the organism, its transmission, geographical distribution, and hosts. DISEASES: Red-rot disease, red-wasting disease. HOSTS: Bangia atropurpurea, Callophyllis adhaerens, Polyopes affinis (syn
  14. ^ Roth, Annie (28 July 2022). "Like Bees of the Seas, These Crustaceans Pollinate Seaweed". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  15. ^ Lavaut, E.; Guillemin, M.-L.; Colin, S.; Faure, A.; Coudret, J.; Destombe, C.; Valero, M. (29 July 2022). "Pollinators of the sea: A discovery of animal-mediated fertilization in seaweed" (PDF). Science. 377 (6605): 528–530. Bibcode:2022Sci...377..528L. doi:10.1126/science.abo6661. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 35901149. S2CID 251159505.

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