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A diverse mix is best

June 21, 2018

A diverse mix of species improves the stability and fuel-oil yield of algal biofuel systems, as well as their resistance to invasion by outsiders, according to the findings of a federally funded outdoor study by University of Michigan researchers.

U-M scientists grew various combinations of freshwater algal species in 80 artificial ponds at U-M’s E.S. George Reserve near Pinckney in the first large-scale, controlled experiment to test the widely held idea that biodiversity can improve the performance of algal biofuel systems in the field.

Overall, the researchers found that diverse mixes of algal species, known as polycultures, performed more key functions at higher levels than any single species. But surprisingly, the researchers also found that polycultures did not produce more algal mass, AKA biomass, than the most productive single species, or monoculture.

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