Battle of Concentrations: How Varying Concentrations of Potassium Nitrate Influence Nannochloropsis oculata Growth

Samuel Walker, Gillian Wicker, Abigail Woods, Hannah Slape, Aaron Faulk


Biofuels Research and Aquatic Quality Collaborative has a mission to research the impacts of varying nutrients on algae and research problems with algae growth in Oklahoma lakes. By studying the growth patterns of Nannochloropsis oculata, the study was able to illustrate how the growth of algae is impacted when grown in variable conditions. We hypothesized that the algae species Nannochloropsis oculata would be affected with the added nutrients available from potassium nitrate through increased growth. In this experiment, the growth of Nannochloropsis oculata was compared to the growth of Nannochloropsis oculata in varying concentrations of Potassium Nitrate (KNO3). This was measured specifically by dry weight and results were compared to the dry weight of algae in a controlled environment, or bioreactors. During the experiment, the cell count was examined from all 8 bioreactors to further support the conclusions. Unfortunately, the results showed that there was a positive impact between the addition of potassium nitrate and the growth of Nannochloropsis oculata. Algae that were grown in environments with particularly high Potassium Nitrate did not grow at the exponential rates when compared to lesser concentrations. With these results, the study aimed to further the discussion about how algae can be a beneficial source for biofuels and further the research about the growth of algae. 

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