Friend or Foe: The Effect of Banana Peels on Algae Growth

Amanda Taggett, Tyler Thomas, A'Breanna Wrice, Bianca Mata, Patrick Cusaac


Eutrophication, or the overabundance of nutrients in a water source, can result in the collapse of entire aquatic ecosystems.  It is the researcher’s jobs at Biofuels Research and Aquatic Quality Collaborative (BiRAQC) to determine what causes these deadly eutrophic algal blooms in order to find a stable balance and prevent such events from occurring.  While many studies have been conducted regarding agricultural and industrial waste run-off, we sought to research the effects of our overflowing landfills composed of waste foods and biodegradables.  Because the banana peel serves as a common waste food that is abundant in nutrients and could potentially benefit algae growth, we chose to study the effects of minced banana peels on randomly selected pond water samples containing Chlorella in Oklahoma.  We hypothesized that due to the banana peel containing vitamins, minerals, amino acids, as well as providing a natural acidity and heavy metal toxin absorption, that the more banana peel added to each pond water sample, the more algae growth would occur due to eutrophication of the water and life and growth support offered by the banana peel.  We added 2, 4 and 6g of banana peel to water samples from a local pond (Dolese Main) and measured cell density of Chlorella present in each sample via a hemocytometer.  Our results supported our hypothesis by showing a cell density count double the previous with each increasing interval.  Thus, compostable materials such as banana peels may cause eutrophic conditions and thus lead to harmful algal blooms.

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