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Published on Apr 7, 2012
"Engineering Application of Integrative Artificial Algal Crust Technology in Shifting Sand Stabilization" A promising project of Institute of Hydrobiology (CAS), the Inner Mongolia Academy of Forestry Science, der Wuhan High-tech Agriculture Group and the Gaolin Biotech Development Co., Ltd. of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Location: Shapotou Scientific Station of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Visit in spring 2011. Cyanobacteria were grown in mass culture ans sprayed on the desert soil. Cyanobacteria grow like cob web filaments and excrete sugars. The sugars act like a glue and stick the sand particles together. A erosion resistanct crust of cyanobacteria and other organisms is formed. In additon many cyanobacteria strains are capable to fix nitrogen form the air by means of nitrogenase (natural fertilzer) and produce UV-screening pigments such as mycosporine-like amino acids and scytonemins as sun screens. When water supply is sufficient (as in the location in the movie) the crusts are replaced by higher plants in the course of time. If water supply does not allow the growth of higher plants cyanobacteria crusts may possibly stabilize the soil and (in combination with other measures) may help to confine desertification. Cyanobacteria are dessication tolerant. They can dessicate and stop their metabolism under water depletion. Upon rehydration (rain or dew) they immediately restart their metabolism and produce biomass which may support other organisms. This method is probably from general interest in order to reduce desertification or to recover eroded soil. There are many aspects to be determined:Techniques in order to spread the cyanobacteria. What amount of cells is necessary in order to form a stable crust (e.g. dessicated encapsulated cells by means of natural wind)? What is the best time point to inoculate the soil with the cells (determination of precipitation, humidity and mist in the course of a year)? Which strains are the best for which area etc.