Western Kentucky University

Poster Title

Is Collema sp., a Gelatinous Lichen, a Sustainable Source of Nitrogen for Greenhouse and Nursery Crop Production?

Institution

Western Kentucky University

Abstract

Fixation of atmospheric nitrogen is vital to plant life. Many cyanobacteria fix nitrogen and can associate with fungi to form lichen. The gelatinous lichen, Collema sp., is native to Warren County, Kentucky and inhabits bare soil. During periods of sufficient soil moisture, it fixes nitrogen, photosynthesizes, and its appearance is altered from a dry, hard flake to hydrated, swollen, and jelly-like. When applied to the soil surface of a planted pot, Collema can act as a nitrogen fertilizer supplement through the release of the nitrogen fixed by the cyanobacteria symbiont into the soil. Four preliminary studies were conducted to examine Collema’s rate of growth, rate of hydration, anatomy and the effect of nitrogen produced on plant growth. The results suggested that Collema is a very promising specimen for future use as a natural nitrogen fertilizer supplement. Further studies are being conducted to examine this lichen’s capabilities in greater detail.

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Is Collema sp., a Gelatinous Lichen, a Sustainable Source of Nitrogen for Greenhouse and Nursery Crop Production?

Fixation of atmospheric nitrogen is vital to plant life. Many cyanobacteria fix nitrogen and can associate with fungi to form lichen. The gelatinous lichen, Collema sp., is native to Warren County, Kentucky and inhabits bare soil. During periods of sufficient soil moisture, it fixes nitrogen, photosynthesizes, and its appearance is altered from a dry, hard flake to hydrated, swollen, and jelly-like. When applied to the soil surface of a planted pot, Collema can act as a nitrogen fertilizer supplement through the release of the nitrogen fixed by the cyanobacteria symbiont into the soil. Four preliminary studies were conducted to examine Collema’s rate of growth, rate of hydration, anatomy and the effect of nitrogen produced on plant growth. The results suggested that Collema is a very promising specimen for future use as a natural nitrogen fertilizer supplement. Further studies are being conducted to examine this lichen’s capabilities in greater detail.