Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



The native cyanobacteria, Nostoc, is found throughout much of the US and has a cosmopolitan distribution. It is a found in free-living colonies on the surface of the ground, growing symbiotically with fungi to form lichen species, and grows symbiotically in the rhizomes of the angiosperm, Gunnera (Gunneraceae). Nostoc fixes atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, which may then be used or converted to a form suitable for plant growth. The free-living forms we investigated desiccate during times of dry weather and rehydrate to photosynthesize and fix nitrogen. Nostoc colonies were collected locally and allowed to desiccate to a uniform moisture content. Seeds of corn were planted in pots in a heated greenhouse. We applied Nostoc and/or a nitrogen-only fertilizer in all combinations to the tops of the pots. The fertilizer was applied at one-half strength and full strength of the recommended rates. There was also an unfertilized control for treatments. In this study and its replication, results indicate that the addition of Nostoc can increase plant height and leaf number of plants. Thus demonstrating Nostoc’s potential as a sustainable biofertilizer.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Martin Stone



Included in

Agriculture Commons