Inhibiting Desertification Using Aquatic Cyanobacteria Assisted by a Nanocomposite


Journal Contribution posted on 19.02.2020 by Yu Chi,  Zhaohuan Li, Guilong Zhang, Lina Zhao, Yanhong Gao, Dongfang Wang, Lichao Liu, Dongqing Cai, Zhengyan Wu,

Desertification and water body eutrophication are two severe environmental problems worldwide. To alleviate these two problems simultaneously, a new idea, introducing aquatic cyanobacteria (AC) from Lake Chaohu to the surface of the Tengger Desert to encourage the growth of biological soil crusts, was proposed. A network-structured nanocomposite (SXA) consisting of sodium polyacrylate (SP), xanthan gum (XG), and attapulgite (ATP) was also fabricated. The SXA showed high water-retention ability, viscosity, and biosafety and could provide a suitable microenvironment for AC and desert cyanobacteria (DC) growth. It was found that the combination of AC and SXA effectively increased sand nutrient levels, facilitating the growth of DC and biological soil crusts. Importantly, the resultant biological soil crusts maintained stability for at least 210 days and played a key role in stabilizing the sand surface. Therefore, this work provides a novel technology not only for desert immobilization but also for the utilization of aquatic blooms.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.