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iLabs: Aquatic Scrubbers

June 29, 2012
Duckweed

The smallest flowering plant covers our pan of pond water.

Many visitors have asked us about the pans of small green plants sitting in the corner of our lab underneath the lights.  One of the interns is working on creating a new bioremediation project. Bioremediation is cleaning up an environment using biological processes.

What does this have to do with the small green plants?  These plants are duckweed.  Duckweed is the smallest flowering plant and grows rapidly, covering bodies of still or slow moving water very quickly.

Duckweed also has a unique property in which it can take in nitrogenous waste found in water.  This waste could be from fertilizer to sewage, and is often a main pollutant in bodies of water near farms or metropolitan areas.

Aquatic Scrubbers

CAUTION: Exhibit under construction!

As the duckweed reproduces over the pond, it absorbs the nitrogen in the water.  The duckweed must then be removed before it sinks or it will release the nitrogen back into the water.

Be on the lookout for new updates on this upcoming experiment!

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