Environmental technology

Inhibition of three algae species using chemicals released from barley straw.

PMID 20450120


Algal blooms are a significant problem in the UK, particularly in water sources that supply potable water treatment works. A wide range of methods to control algae have been tested and, whilst many are effective, they all have disadvantages. The use of barley straw to control algal growth in reservoirs is one option that is gaining popularity, but little is known about its mode of action. One suggested mechanism is that, as the straw is broken down, algastatic chemicals such as phenolics are released. Here we have used an algae inhibition test to evaluate the effect of chemicals reported to be released from straw on three common algal species: Chlorella vulgaris, Microcystis aeruginosa and Scenedesmus subspicatus. It was shown that, of the chemicals assessed, many produced an algastatic effect on the growth of the three algal species tested, with 2 phenyl-phenol being the most effective, whilst p-cresol and benzaldehyde were shown to be effective at concentrations similar to those that have been reported downstream of rotted straw. Scenedesmus subspicatus proved to be much more resistant to the chemicals tested than the other species.

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