The growth of marine low-trophic animals is fueled by energy from primary producers (microalgae and seaweed) and/or waste from other animals. Some examples of low-trophic animals, both planktonic and benthic, are polychaetes, sea cucumbers, amphipods, sea slugs, copepods and bivalves. Because of their biology and position in the marine food-chain, the cultivation of these animals commonly needs less energy than that of high-trophic animals. For instance, animals which eat waste from other animals (detrivores) may be utilised in a circular bioeconomy. Low-trophic animals will therefore likely constitute an important component in the future human nutrient need, either as an ingredient in feed or as food.
At SINTEF Ocean, we research to find new low-trophic animals which may be used as feed or food. We establish protocols for production biology of the whole life cycle of the animal and develop technology for an industrial production. We also arrange seminars to raise awareness of the benefits of low trophic aquaculture.
Together with NTNU, SINTEF Ocean hosts the national research infrastructure the Norwegian Plankton Technology Centre, an experimental facility funded by the Research Council of Norway. Here we have a wide range of infrastructure which enables experimental research on different life stages of many low-trophic animals, from egg via larvae to mature adults.