Halophytes for the Treatment of Saline Aquaculture Effluent

EPA Grant Number: U914966
Title: Halophytes for the Treatment of Saline Aquaculture Effluent
Investigators: Brown, Jonathan J.
Institution: University of Arizona
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 1996 through January 1, 1998
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Horticulture , Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The objective of this research project is to grow halophytes using nutrient-rich saline wastewater from aquaculture operations. If this wastewater can raise a useful and economically beneficial halophyte crop on land (either for oilseed or forage), an additional benefit may be that excess nutrients can be removed by the plants from the wastewater stream. My hypothesis is that the halophyte species under examination will sequester a significant amount of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorous from the wastewater stream over a wide range of salinity treatments using conventional leaching fractions. This is attributed to their unique physiological adaptations for survival under high-salinity, low-nutrient conditions.


I recently completed the first experiment of my research. This experiment examined the feasibility of using halophytes for phytoremediation of saline aquaculture waste. This experiment compared nutrient assimilation (nitrogen and phosphorous), growth rates, shoot/root ratios, and nonprotein/protein nitrogen ratios in Salicornia bigelovii, Suadeda esteroa, and Atriplex barclyana plants irrigated with aquaculture wastewater of different salinities. Additional greenhouse experiments will involve larger lysimeters containing higher densities of plants to simulate field conditions. Experiments also will be conducted in which the leaching fraction is manipulated.

The results of this research project would be of use to power-plant operators; power plants generate large quantities of saline wastewater that could be used to irrigate halophyte crops. Because halophyte agriculture is a growing area, this research also will be of interest to farmers growing halophyte crops who are using traditional fertilizers on their fields. This research project will supply data on nutrient-assimilation capacity and growth rate under varying salinity regimes. For the same reason, this research project will be useful to researchers working on basic halophyte physiology.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, halophytes, saline, aquaculture effluent, wastewater, nutrient assimilation, nitrogen, phosphorous., RFA, Scientific Discipline, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Aquatic Ecosystem, Aquatic Ecosystems, Environmental Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, nutrient dynamics, aquaculture, nitrogen cycling, halophytes, phosphorus, nitrogen uptake

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • Final