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Algae can also enhance the growth of cultivated plants

The plant root provides water and nutrients uptake necessary for growth from the soil. For this reason, the development of the root system can greatly affect crop yields.


Extreme weather caused by climate change and the prolonged use of fertilizers may result in deterioration of soil quality and its water-holding capacity and thus make it more prone to desiccation. The farmers have to increase irrigation in order to maintain the yield level, which in turn increases the costs of production.

The deeper layers of the soil are less susceptible to sudden changes in temperature and are able to retain their moisture content for a longer period of time. The close relationship between the plant roots’ depth (length) and water uptake is a well-known fact among scientists performing biological and agricultural research. In addition, young plants in growth are especially vulnerable to desiccation and need greater attention from the point of view of water supply.

Green algae however may be capable of producing substances similar to plant hormones, which affect the development of plants. Within the framework of the Vegaalga project of the Institute of Biotechnology (BAY-BIO) in Szeged of the Bay Zoltán Nonprofit Ltd. for Applied Research we examined the impact of cultivated algae culture on the germination ability and root growth of field-produced wheat among laboratory conditions.

During the experiments, in addition to the live algae cell treatments, BayBio associates studied the effects of centrifuged nutrient solution of algae culture on (supernatant) root growth. Namely, according to certain resources, the algae are able to select plant hormone-like substances into their culture environment. The aim of the research is also to find the optimal applicable dosis. The results were compared with the impact of tap water and algae-free nutrient solution treatment.

The applied treatments were the following:

K1 – fresh, algae nutrient solution which never contained algae

K2 – tap water

A – 2 g/l algae nutrient solution

B – 1 g/l algae nutrient solution

C – 0,5 g/l algae nutrient solution

D – 0,25 g/l algae nutrient solution

E – 100 % centrifuged algae nutrient solution

F – 50 % centrifuged algae nutrient solution/tap water

G – 25 % centrifuged algae nutrient solution/tap water

H – 10 % centrifuged algae broth / tap water

I – 5 % centrifuged algae nutrient solution

 

The following graph shows a three-day average root length (in mms) of wheat treated by supernatant living algae or algae culture compared to young plant root length treated by control fluids. The results represent the average of root length measured in 10 different plants per treatment.

 

3 napos búzanövények gyökérhossz átlaga

3-day average root length of wheat plants

 Root length study results show that the roots of young plants treated by supernatant living algae or algae culture is longer compared to the control plants, and the direct presence of algae had an extremely positive impact on root growth. The difference may reach up to 91%.

 

Based on the results we can say that algae treatment has a positive effect on root growth of young wheat plants. Due to longer roots, the young plants can access water resources more quickly in the deeper layers of soil, which makes them more resistant to a sudden, short-term drought. At the same time, increased root length ensures better water and nutrient content to the plants, which has a beneficial effect on growth and can also make them more resistant to certain biotic and abiotic stress factors. All this can lead to a more stable crop creation, which has a positive effect on yield. Rapid development of deeper roots can contribute to a reduction in irrigation needs, which in the long run reduces production costs. What is more, all this is possible without the use of fertilizers.


2017. February 27.