The effect of cultivation conditions on duckweed nutritional profiles, with applications for aquaculture and aquatic ecology
Water lentils (duckweeds) are small aquatic plants that naturally found in ponds, lakes, and streams. Water lentils have been consumed by human populations for decades, and are a plant-based and sustainable source of proteins, potassium, iron, and fatty acids. Fifty years of ecological studies on the effects of abiotic factors on plant nutrients have shown that slight tweaks in temperature, salinity, and species mixtures can significantly increase plant nutrient levels and growth rates in nature. In this project we leverage this ecological information to fine-tune water lentil growing conditions in the lab and in large-scale commercial facilities. We will also examine the transfer of nutrients from water lentils to tilapia and rainbow trout through feeding experiments with fresh water lentils, and with water lentil-based fish food pellets. The overall goals of this project are to improve water lentil growing conditions for mass-production, and to test the efficacy of water lentil-based fish food for the health and growth of fish.