Barley straw as an inhibitor of algal growth II: laboratory studies


The presence of rotting barley straw in water inhibited the growth of several planktonic and filamentous algae in laboratory culture. The inhibitory effect was produced progressively during decomposition of the straw at 20 °C and reached a maximum after six months. When the straw was autoclaved, all inhibitory activity was lost. Algae recovered and continued to grow normally when transferred from cultures containing rotting straw to sterile culture medium. Addition of liquor from rotting straw also inhibited algal growth. The capacity to inhibit growth remained in the liquor after passage through a 0.2 ,μm filter but was removed by activated carbon. The inhibitory effect of straw shows promise as a practical means of limiting the growth of a range of algae which can cause problems in aquatic systems.

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Gibson, M.T., Welch, I.M., Barrett, P.R.F. et al. Barley straw as an inhibitor of algal growth II: laboratory studies. J Appl Phycol 2, 241–248 (1990).

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Key words

  • straw
  • algal inhibition