Date of Award


Document Type




First Reader

Dr. Jim Taylor

Second Reader

Dr. Tim Knight

Third Reader

Dr. Scott Duvall


As scientists explore further into space, more cost-effective resources are needed for long-term space travel. An interesting solution is Arthrospira platensis, a filamentous cyanobacteria high in proteins and nutrients, and known for its helical structure. In unfavorable conditions, coiled spirulina cells become straight. Spirulina converts carbon dioxide gas into pure oxygen and the different cell structures stimulate different responses in oxygen production and cultivation. In these experiments, 2.3 L containers of pure coiled spirulina and mixed (coiled and straight) spirulina were placed into 3 incubators with different light intensities: 51μmol/m2/s, 25μmol/m2/s, 12μmol/m2/s. Each experiment length was 72 hours and the spirulina cultures’ cell concentration, and oxygen production was measured at the 24, 48, and 72 hour mark. During observations, the coiled spirulina expressed a continuous cell concentration growth, whereas the mixed spirulina steadily declined over the 72 hours. Results of this experiment also suggest that coiled spirulina produces more oxygen at an intensity of 25μmol/m2/s and can do so at a lower concentration while growing at a consistent rate. The mixed cultures appear to multiply faster in a lower light intensity, but the oxygen production remains low.



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