Press Release: New global research initiative investigates carbon sequestration potential of kelp

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – 6th February 2024 

Could kelp be a secret weapon in the fight against climate change? A new research project aims to answer that question by better understanding how kelp contributes to carbon sequestration in our oceans. 

The international collaboration, led by New Zealand’s Cawthron Institute with partners Sequench (NZ), Kelp Forest Foundation (Netherlands), and NatureMetrics (UK), aims to revolutionize our comprehension of kelp forests’ contributions to the global carbon cycle and their potential as a tool for climate mitigation. 

Nathan Geraldi, Lead Developer for Ocean Solutions at NatureMetrics, said seaweeds, particularly kelp, could be a significant source of the carbon sequestered in the ocean. “Up until now, kelp’s contribution to the carbon cycle has remained unknown because we have not had the tools to measure it.” 

Samantha Deane, Managing Director of the Kelp Forest Foundation, said traditional methods such as stable isotope, pigments, and lipid analysis have been limited in their ability to accurately detect and identify kelp-derived carbon in marine sediments. 

“This project’s approach leverages the power of environmental DNA, which involves the extraction of genetic material directly from environmental samples without any obvious signs of biological source material.” 

Cawthron Institute’s Dr Xavier Pochon, who will lead the project, said a core focus of the project will involve building a kelp genomic library. 

“We’ll be using leading edge molecular diagnostic tools to estimate the amount of kelp-derived organic matter that is stored in marine sediments and surrounding environments.” 

Anastasija Zaiko of Sequench said the central hypothesis of this research is that eDNA is a reliable and traceable marker for tracking giant kelp-derived carbon, allowing for a more accurate assessment of carbon sequestration potential in kelp forests.“

By successfully identifying and quantifying giant kelp DNA in sediment samples, this project aims to establish a direct link between source and sink habitats.” 

Elif Demir-Hilton, advisor at Oceankind, said they are happy to support this strategic partnership to design and test molecular tools for species-specific carbon tracing.
“The capacity to track the fate of kelp carbon can inform restoration and conservation efforts and fill an important gap in the toolkit for carbon sequestration.” 


For more information about the project, please contact project leader Dr Xavier Pochon: Email | | Phone | +64 27 839 8982 

For international media who would like speak to project contacts at partner organisations including Oceankind, The Kelp Forest Foundation, NatureMetrics and Sequench, media contact details and organizational bios are provided below. 

About Cawthron Institute 

Cawthron is New Zealand’s largest independent science organization, with an international reputation for enterprise, innovation, excellence and delivery in scientific consultancy, research and development. Cawthron excels in providing practical and independent aquatic and environmental research expertise, scientific technologies and analytical services to help build environmentally and economically resilient communities. Cawthron’s teams have evaluated and optimized methodologies for detecting species in a range of sample types including water, sediment and biofilms. In particular, Cawthron scientists are world-leading experts in the development and application of eDNA/eRNA High-Throughput Sequencing (HTS) tools for monitoring aquatic environments. The institute is fully equipped for conducting field sampling operations (boats, diving capability), and ecological and molecular analyses on a wide range of environmental samples. For more information, visit

About Oceankind 

Oceankind is committed to advancing ocean conservation and sustainability efforts around the world. With a mission to preserve our oceans for future generations, we support projects and initiatives that address critical environmental challenges and promote responsible stewardship of marine resources. For more information, visit Oceankind media contact:

About Sequench 

Sequench is a professional environmental DNA/RNA (eDNA/eRNA) laboratory established in New Zealand which offers high-end molecular analyses of complex environmental samples and science-underpinned solutions for eDNA/eRNA-based environmental monitoring. Conveniently located 5 min away from Cawthron, SEQUENCH is set-up following the best practices in molecular laboratory operations. It has a state-of- the-art molecular laboratory equipment which enables high throughput and standardized sample processing and quality control across all steps of eDNA/eRNA analytical protocols: KingFisher Flex DNA/RNA purification platform, PCR thermocyclers, QuantStudio™ 7 Flex quantitative PCR, Bioanalyzer, Qubit fluorometer, Illumina MiSeq high-throughput sequencing platform (Illumina) and a range of other basic laboratory devices. For more information, visit  Sequench media contact: <Anastasija Zaiko>, <Director>: Email | <> | Phone | <+64 21 052 5094>  

About Kelp Forest Foundation (KFF) 

Kelp Forest Foundation (KFF) is a Netherlands-based NGO, driving the research of kelp forests as a nature-based solution to climate change and biodiversity loss. It is connecting “research silos” and mobilizing funding to obtain the best-of-its-class applied science outputs. For more information, visit   KFF media contact: <Xu Ben Zhang>, <Project Manager>: Email | <> | Phone | <+31 650052693>  

About NatureMetrics 

NatureMetrics is a UK-based, world-leading provider of biodiversity monitoring data, using environmental DNA (eDNA) surveys, metabarcoding and more. Its purpose- built laboratories are setting the standard for delivering DNA-based monitoring services, including physical separation of pre- and post-PCR workflows and integrated UV lighting for the routine decontamination of workspaces, as well as state-of-the-art Illumina MiSeq sequencers. For more information, visit   NatureMetrics media contact: <Helena Sherman>, < Senior Marketing Executive>: Email | <> | Phone | <+44 2038 76735>