Duckweed’s Response to Varying Levels of Temperature and Fertilizer Concentration
Lemna minor, commonly known as duckweed, is viewed by most people as an unimpressive and even revolting plant that inhabits common water ways. They possess tiny leaves and short roots which aid in reproduction. Despite occupying fresh and contaminated water bodies across the globe, the most prolific species of duckweed exist in tropical or subtropical areas is areas of slowly moving water. More often than not, slowly moving water sources are also home to larger animals such as fish, alligators, etc. whose excrement turns into an outstanding nutrient source for duckweed plants.
In times when nutrient levels have decreased or the temperature is too extreme, duckweeds cannot support the necessary functions for continuation of growth. This encourages a form of hibernation in order to preserve themselves. The duckweeds form structures called turions during this process and sink to the bottom of the water source until a more ideal situation returns. The cyclical nature, rapid overturn into new generations, ability to adapt to many ecosystems across the globe, and high tolerance to a range of environmental stressors make these unique organisms an ideal model organism for biological research.
How it works
Duckweed has a reputation among naturalists, conservationists, and those out to purely to enjoy nature is less than desirable for mostly understandable reasons. Not only is duckweed green and slimy, a character complex known to be repulsive to most onlookers, but it can often be mistaken for a type of algae. In reality, duckweed overtakes everything in its path provided it is given the right environment to grow due to its extraordinary ability to pull nutrients in from its immediate surroundings and use them as nourishment to grow and develop. Algae does not stand a chance.
This organism can be extremely disturbing to look upon when one is accustomed to a pond or lake that, prior to its proliferation, was free of the species. If duckweed is viewed from an environmentalist and conversationalist perspective, then duckweed can be harmful to the natural ecosystem.
It can cause harm due to its ability to block incoming light for other organisms; thus, the amount of dissolved oxygen available to other, keystone organisms is significantly reduced. This reduction of available vital resources for organisms can climb its way through the trophic levels of the ecosystem and cause a possible collapse. While all of these reasons to look upon duckweed with disapproval are legitimate and justified, the goal throughout this experiment is to show the benefits of duckweed as a crop source.
The practice of cultivating duckweed is already well established in rural areas of developing countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, and Burma as a crude crop resource to feed to livestock and it is also eaten as a vegetable. Edibility opportunities and nutrition research foraying into using L. minor as a food source is just beginning to be developed and expanded in more economically advanced countries. To add to the information being accrued, this experiment will analyze the effect of temperature and nutrient stressors on the duckweed’s growth over an extended period.
The plants that are under a greater amount of stress should exhibit less growth than those with a lesser amount of stress exerted on the plants. Using plants such as duckweed in research is vitally important since it promotes the exploration of ordinary plants that are comprised of exceptionally complex mechanisms. The impact of this research could be implemented into farming systems and facilitate a more sustainable and efficient system, taking better care of the land, and in this case, waterways. Finally, the end result of this research would be that a greater volume of crops could be produced and ,therefore, more mouths could be fed a nutritious harvest.
Put at top, use as motivationSince climate change is a huge issue in today’s culture globally, a trend has been seen for looking into a more sustainable environment. Included in a more sustainable environment is the increase of food and significance placed on agriculture. Integrated farming has become extremely popular since an emphasis is placed on maximizing the crop yield while minimizing the amount of waste involved.
It draws inspiration from ancient cultures and brings their values into modern times. Fertilizer is limited, and animals are incorporated into the system to provide a natural fertilizer and get rid of anthropogenic byproducts that humans may leave behind. While at first glance this approach to farming may seem simplistic, contrarily, it is well thought out in in order to keep nitrogen and phosphorous fixed, and any free nutrients are picked up by the scavenging system. Add tie in sentence
The duckweed farming that occurs in locations like Vietnam, Burma, and Thailand follows this model of integrated farming in order to make the most of what is available to them. Countries of greater wealth would do well to look to them as reference for a more sustainable farming system to optimize total biomass and aid in maintenance of long-term soil and water fertility. Connect to next paragraph
When grown and managed under optimal conditions such as an integrated farming system, duckweed contains up to 43% protein, 5% fat and is a suitable source of food for both animals and humans. Because of this, many countries have chosen to grow duckweed as a crop simply because of the versatility of this plant.
Duckweed pulls in a high amount of nutrients from its surroundings because of its rapid growth cycle leading to a variety of uses in foods for many species. The high protein and concentrate of carotene and xanthophylls make it a wonderful feed for fish, pig, poultry, and ruminants, while the additional high levels of vitamin A, C, and phosphorous content makes it a great option for human consumption.
Since nutrient rich options for food and high protein resources are lacking in many areas of the world, the experiment I will be leading will be extremely relevant to this topic. Nutrient levels given to the duckweed and the temperature that it grown in can have a dramatic effect on the levels of growth that duckweed could exhibit.
I predict that the The results of my experiments with duckweed can tell us which environments would be best suited for duckweed cultivation. This would in turn allow for a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution to aid in modern farming practices, while helping to improve human diets by offering more accessible foods to those in need.