Meet the partners!

To bring AQUACOMBINE to success 17 partner from 7 countries with different expertise are working together on this four-year project. In this section we will gradually introduce all partners, their knowledge, experience, work and hopes for the project.

“Cultivation of halophytes and analysis of the physiological status of the plants”

Prof. Dr. Jutta Papenbrock from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany

“Prof. Papenbrock, looking back on the first two years of the project what is your most surprising result?”

Salicornia spp. probably surprised me the most. Genetic characterisation and identification have shown that the variability within the genus Salicornia is broader than we thought. With this variability, the morphological and biochemical composition also varies. On the one hand, this offers more aspects to be studied. On the other hand, I think it will be important to develop a variety of different Salicornia cultivars through modern breeding approaches that achieves the best and consistent results as a crop plant species for defined applications in the future.

Read the whole interview here.

“Synthesize novel bioactive esters based on precious phenolic compounds that are found in the halophyte Salicornia plants.”

Io Antonopoulou from Luleå University of Technology, Sweden

“Io, if you could wish for something for the project, what would it be and why?”

I wish that the project’s results will be applied fast in the near future towards developing smart integrated aqua cultures and halophyte cultivation within Europe. Halophyte plants have been known in folk medicine to have many beneficial effects on human health. A holistic approach for their valorisation leaving zero waste could be a major step towards achieving a carbon zero economy. Moreover, halophytes are resilient plants that can be grown in remote areas with high salinity, enabling land use and limiting the need for irrigation.

Read the whole interview here.

“Extraction and purification of protein and lipid fractions from the green juice of the halophyte plants”.

Iwona Cybulska, Assistant Professor at UCLouvain Faculty of Bioscience Engineering/Earth and Life Institute, Belgium.

“Iwona the four-year project began in October 2019. After two years, can you say what your most surprising result has been so far?”

What has surprised us the most, is how different the plants are from everything we were used to work with. Starting with the challenges during the analyses of chemical composition, through the green fractionation and finishing with the protein and lipid extraction. The reason for these challenges to occur is the extremely rich chemical composition of the plants, which is dependent on the harvesting season and cultivation. The variability opens many new possibilities, but it also causes troubles during process optimization.

Read the whole interview here.

“Techno-economic analysis and business plan”.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Axel Gottschalk is the head of the Institute of Process Engineering, being part of the faculty Technology at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences, Germany.

“Axel what added value do you expect from the project?”

“I expect that the multidisciplinary approach of AQUACOMBINE enables us to demonstrate feasible future ways of cultivation of healthy food and animal feed on saline soil. In addition to that, value is added by following an innovative circular economy approach which combines the halophyte plant farming with aquaponic fish farming and a dedicated biorefinery. In this way, it enables to valorise…

Read the whole interview here.

“Fish feed formulating and testing”.

Prof. Dr. Mário Pacheco and his Team, University of Aveiro, Portugal

What added value do you expect from the four-year AQUACOMBINE project?

The environmental sustainability of most aquaculture segments, namely fish and crustacean rearing, is a matter of global concern, namely in relation to the identification of alternative aquafeed components to partially replace products from wild-caught fish. Thus, taking DNA integrity and anti-oxidant system as early warning signals of health impairments, the most expected added value of the project, in the framework of our tasks, is the…

Read the whole interview here.

“Biogas production from halophytes and their residues”.

Prof. Dr Hinrich Uellendahl and PhD student Aadila Cayenne, Hochschule Flensburg – University of Applied Science, Germany


What added value do you both expect from the project?”

We expect that the outcome of the AQUACOMBINE project will be a biorefinery concept for full valorisation of halophyte plants that can be implemented in full-scale. This means that the AQUACOMBINE project will provide a solution for the utilization of saline soils by halophyte cultivation and the economically feasible conversion into multiple value-added products, bioenergy, and nutrient recovery.

Read the whole interview here.

“Extraction and purification of protein, lipids and hemicellulose sugars from green halophytes”

Dr. Stéphane Kohnen from CELABOR, Belgien

Stéphane, the project has been running since October 2019 and will be completed by the end of September 2023. Which results have surprised you the most so far?”

The result that surprised me the most so far is probably the huge number of molecules identified as phenolic acids, polyphenols or flavonoids present in our extracts. In the beginning of the project, the idea was only to focus on about ten molecules called hydrocinammic acids, but our investigations showed that our extracts contain more than…

Read the whole interview here.

“Functional fish feed formulation and testing”

Benjamin Costas from CIIMAR, Portugal

When you think about the results, which ones have surprised you the most so far?

Most surprising results so far were observed during this trial with European seabass fed a diet with 10% of Salicornia ramosissima inclusion for two months. It was observed an increased recruitment of leucocytes (immune cells) to the place where pathogenic bacteria were injected…………

Read the whole interview here.

“Cosmetic and functional food (dairy products) formulation with halophyte whole extracts and isolated compounds including production scalability.”

Bjarke Dam from DK Beauty, Denmark

Bjarke, if you could wish for something for the project, what would it be?”

Personally, I would enjoy the project being successful in being able to use saline land that would be obsolete otherwise and the fact that every part of the plant is use, thus minimizing carbon footprint.

Read the whole interview here.

“Pilot design and combined Aquaculture and Salicornia europea”

Dr. Ramon Parez and Dr. Jiwan Chettri from Alpha Aqua, Denmark


The project has been running since October 2019 and will be completed by the end of the year 2023. Which results have surprised you the most so far?”

The Salicornia plants are very efficient in the uptake of nitrogenous compounds from the fish process water. It is remarkable to see the quick reduction (>50%) of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate concentration in the fish process water after being in circulation in the aquaponic unit for a short period.

Read the whole interview here.



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 862834. Any results of this project reflects only this consortium’s view and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.