The aquaculture of macroalgae for human consumption and other high-end applications is experiencing unprecedented development in European countries, with the brown algae Saccharina latissima being the flag species. However, environmental conditions in open sea culture sites are often unique, which may impact the biochemical composition of cultured macroalgae. The present study compared the elemental compositions (CHNS), fatty acid profiles, and lipidomes of S. latissima originating from three distinct locations (France, Norway, and the United Kingdom). Significant differences were found in the elemental composition, with Norwegian samples displaying twice the lipid content of the others, and significantly less protein (2.6%, while French and UK samples contained 6.3% and 9.1%, respectively). The fatty acid profiles also differed considerably, with UK samples displaying a lower content of n-3 fatty acids (21.6%), resulting in a higher n-6/n-3 ratio. Regarding the lipidomic profile, samples from France were enriched in lyso lipids, while those from Norway displayed a particular signature of phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylinositol, and phosphatidylcholine. Samples from the UK featured higher levels of phosphatidylethanolamine and, in general, a lower content of galactolipids. These differences highlight the influence of site-specific environmental conditions in the shaping of macroalgae biochemical phenotypes and nutritional value. It is also important to highlight that differences recorded in the lipidome of S. latissima make it possible to pinpoint specific lipid species that are likely to represent origin biomarkers. This finding is relevant for future applications in the field of geographic origin traceability and food control.
Keywords: elemental composition; glycolipids; lipidomics; mass spectrometry; phospholipids; polyunsaturated fatty acids; seaweeds; traceability.