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EFFECTS OF DRYING ON NITRIFICATION ACTIVITY IN ZEOPONIC MEDIUM USED FOR LONG-TERM SPACE MISSIONS

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One component of a proposed life support system is the use of zeoponic substrates, which slowly release NH4+ into “soil” solution, for the production of plants. Nitrifying bacteria that convert NH4+ to NO3 are among the important microbial components of these systems. Survival of nitrifying bacteria in dry zeoponic substrates is needed, because the substrate would likely be stored in an air-dry state between croppings. Substrate was enriched for nitrifying bacteria and allowed to air-dry in a laminar flow hood. Stored substrate was analyzed for nitrifier survivability by measuring nitrifier activity at the beginning, 3 days, 1, 2, and 3 weeks. After rewetting, activity was approximately 9 g N g−1 h−1 regardless of storage time. Nitrification rates did not decrease during storage. It seems unlikely that drying between plantings would result in practical reductions in nitrification, and reinoculation with nitrifying bacteria would not be necessary.
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Keywords: Clay mineral; Nitrification; Nitrifying bacteria; Zeoponics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Soil and Crop Sciences Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2474

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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  • Habitation, International Journal for Human Support Research, is designed to meet the needs of an emerging field of study necessitated by the need to develop new technologies to support human activities within controlled environments.
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