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Friday, 17 April 2020 09:33

A micro-algae grown in wastewater from the brewing industry is applied as a fertilizer

The aim of this work is to provide agriculture with more biological products with which to reduce or eliminate the use of industrial fertilizers in agricultural crops. The aim of this work is to provide agriculture with more biological products with which to reduce or eliminate the use of industrial fertilizers in agricultural crops.

Researchers from ceiA3 of Almeria University have tested several chemical engineering processes on extracts of this cellular microorganism, grown in wastewater from beer production

The research group attached to ceiA3 "Biotechnology of marine microalgae | BIO-173" that belongs to the Department of Chemical Engineering of Almeria University (UAL) has demonstrated, in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training (IFAPA), and the Portugal National Laboratory of Energy and Geology (LNEG), that a microalgae grown in wastewater from beer production acts as a biofertilizer for plant growth.

The results point to a 40 percent growth increase in cucumber, green soybean or watercress crops. The results have also been positive accoding with, this microalgae potentiates an essential hormone in the growth of the stem, called gibberellin, and another that intervenes mainly in plant ́s root development, auxin.

The research entitled “Biostimulant Potential of Scenedesmus obliquus Grown in Brewery Wastewater”' has been published in the scientific journal Molecules. Its main objective is to provide agriculture with more biological products with which to reduce or eliminate the use of industrial fertilizers in agricultural crops.

Stimulating proteins

This Andalusian scientific team has also analysed the effect of applying enzymatic hydrolysis to Scenedesums obliquus. This is a procedure that breaks down proteins to release amino acids, which are chemical compounds directly related to plant growth, into the environment.
 
The aim, as in the other tests, has been to check whether the microalgae promote the growth of these seeds compared to the development of the seeds if no fertilizer is added.

Results of this work have also been positive, and have again demonstrated the potential for plant growth of this microalgae. They have advanced the achievements of previous research by this and other groups, proving that they are microorganisms with the capacity to contribute to sustainable and healthy food production, as well as to the treatment of waste water.

Looking to the future, the work involves improving the treatments and obtaining a generalised process that can also be used for other species, as well as the conditions of cultivation or the subsequent storage of the final product. "It is also about increasing knowledge about the observed bioactivity and relating the results to the different substances involved in plant growth", explains Navarro.

This research, which is part of the European project SABANA (Sustainable Algae Biorefinery for Aquaculture and Agriculture), has been carried out over the last three years at the University of Almeria and at IFAPA's facilities in Cañada de San Urbano (Almería), and is financed by several European projects such as Sabana and Green Biorefinery.

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