You’ve grown so much! The effects of nitrogen on the growth of algae (Nannochloropsis oculata)

Steven Downs, Kate Goodwin, shayla Dellanno, Mattie Dorsey, Ashlynn Harris, James Mantooth


Algae has slowly been seen as a viable biofuel, and research institutions such as BiRAQC have been conducting studies to find the best method to facilitate higher algae growth to produce more biofuel. Many studies that have been previously done show that nitrogen is the main nutrient that will allow the most growth in algae because they are easily absorbed and are quick to form proteins. We wanted to test the effects of nitrogen on algae growth, and we predict that higher concentrations of nitrogen will facilitate more growth in algae (Nannochloropsis oculata). We used a photobioreactor to facilitate the growth of N. oculata, and to test our hypothesis, we conducted 2 different tests to measure cell growth: a hemocytometer and fluorometer. The initial cell density for both groups was recorded at approximately 420,000 cells/μL. The average cell density of the control group was recorded at approximately 525,000 cells/μL, which is higher than the average cell density of the experiment group which was recorded at approximately 475,000 cells/μL. The average chlorophyll concentration of the control group was 233.7 μg/L, which was higher than the average chlorophyll concentration in the experiment group, which was recorded at 175.8 μg/L. Our hypothesis that higher nitrogen concentrations facilitated higher growth in N. oculata was not supported since the average cell density in the experiment group (which contained higher ammonia concentration) facilitated lower cellular growth in N. oculata, which is also supported with the lower chlorophyll concentration in the experiment group.  

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