Oh Gee! Algae! – A Study of the Effects of Organic and Inorganic Nutrients on Algae Growth

Abigail Buck, Alinna Brickhouse, Jarod Cross, Angelo Panditharathna


This experiment was designed to study and compare algal growth in water samples with various organic and inorganic nutrients. We hypothesized that inorganic nutrients would correlate to higher levels of algal growth than organic nutrients. To conduct this experiment, we made photobioreactors out of four water bottles to grow algae in samples with various nutrients. One bottle served as the control group (no additional nutrient), and the other three were filled with Urea (CH4N2O), Sodium Phosphate (NaPO4) and Potassium Nitrate (KNO3), individually. After leaving the samples for a week to grow algae, we measured the cell density of algae in each of the water bottles. Our results indicated that the water samples with additional organic and/or inorganic nutrients correlated to higher cell densities of algae as compared to our control group. However, only the Potassium Nitrate samples displayed higher levels of algae as compared to the organic Urea sample. Therefore, our hypothesis could not be fully supported in this experiment.

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