A mussel farm.
One of the new research projects will investigate the climate footprint of mussel farms.
Photo: Erika Sundell

Research on climate and future food receives Formas grants


Four researchers at the Department of Marine Sciences have received project funding from the research council Formas. Bastien Queste, Sophie Steinhagen, Stefano Bonaglia and Henrik Pavia together receive just over SEK 12 million for research that will contribute to a sustainable development of society.

Bastien Queste, Sophie Steinhagen and Stefano Bonaglia receive Research projects for early-career researchers, while Henrik Pavia gets a Research project in the Open call. In both calls, less than 15 percent of the applications were granted.

Improving harmful algal bloom predictions in the Middle East

Bastien Queste
Bastien Queste

Bastien Queste´s project has two facets. The first half of the project is fundamental science,  trying to understand the biogeochemical processes in the very special 800 meter thick, almost oxygen free, layer in the Arabian Sea, and how it might respond to climate change. Among other things, its vertical expansion may lead to more harmful algal blooms, with negative effects for the artisan fishery and desalination plants in the area. The societal part of the project, is to help the region set up a new monitoring framework, coupling models and gliders, to better predict harmful algal blooms.

"It feels great to have this project funded. I've been trying to establish a proper monitoring infrastructure in the region with Omani colleagues for years. We can finally do the work, capturing the physics and biogeochemistry and really improve monitoring capabilities, but also do some really exciting fundamental science at the same time!", says Bastien Queste.

Defining the cultivation potential of Sea Lettuces along the Swedish coast

Sopthie Steinhagen
Sophie Steinhagen
Photo: Samanta Hoffman

Sea Lettuces have a growing potential in aquaculture due to their high productivity, wide environmental tolerance as well as suitable nutritional properties. Until now, the Scandinavian species diversity remains unknown, and species depending differences in high value compounds – proteins, fatty acids, and carbohydrates – have never been investigated in detail. In her project, Sophie Steinhagen will use molecular techniques to explore species and population depending traits, and assess how differences in high value compounds vary under changing cultivation conditions. The results can be used to generate economically and ecologically important crop strains.

"All results will be communicated with authorities, databases and commercial partners to ensure a strong societal impact of this research, which can clearly contribute to a more sustainable future blue economy", says Sophie Steinhagen.

What is the contribution of mussel farms to greenhouse gas emissions?

Stefano Bonaglia
Stefano Bonaglia

In addition to being a globally important food industry, mussel farming is increasingly seen as a cost-effective method to mitigate eutrophication in the coastal ocean. However, preliminary results have shown that mussels and their depositions can produce methane. Stefano Bonaglia's project will contribute with one of the first assessments of greenhouse gas emissions from methane and nitrous oxide from mussel farm ecosystems, and their climate footprint.

"I feel honored that in the same year I was awarded both VR and Formas grants. They are two different projects with the same vision: to understand, quantify, and try to mitigate the human impact on vital carbon and nitrogen cycles. Now I look forward to carrying out the research!", says Stefano Bonaglia.


Research projects for early-career researchers

  • Bastien Queste
    Project title: Improving harmful algal bloom predictions in the Middle East: How submesoscale physics disrupt food and water security.
    Funded amount: 3 998 560 SEK
  • Sophie Steinhagen
    Project title: A manual for the use of sustainable marine resources. Definition of the cultivation potential and commercially relevant compounds of Sea Lettuces (Ulva spp.) along the Swedish coastline.
    Funded amount: 3 999 276 SEK
  • Stefano Bonaglia
    Project title: What is the contribution of mussel farming to greenhouse gas emissions? A combined empirical and life cycle assessment approach.
    Funded amount: 3 999 996 SEK

Annual open call – Research projects

  • Henrik Pavia
    Projekt: Will ocean acidification cause a large-scale loss of habitat-forming brown seaweeds?
    Funded amount: 2 997 500 SEK