Original paper

Cryptobiotic cyanobacteria: an alternative in organic agriculture

López-Cortés, Alejandro; Maya-Delgado, Yolanda


Heterocystous filamentous cyanobacterium Scytonema cf. ocellatum strain SCL1097-22 was produced in a large outdoor photoreactor (2001 capacity). The cyanobacterial biomass was applied to soil used in growing the "California" variety of chili pepper (Capsicum annum). Chili peppers were grown under the following four conditions: untreated natural soil, addition of 30 % organic substrate, addition of cyanobacteria, and addition of 30 % organic substrate with cyanobacteria. Treatment of soil only with Scytonema produced high a yield of chili pepper, averaging 1518 ± 96 g and lengths ranging from 12-15 cm. A microscopic study of the soil with this treatment showed living filaments of Scytonema, and the presence of a cyanobacterial community that included Leptolyngbya, Oscillatoria, and Microcoleus. The treatment of soil enriched with 30 % organic substrate and Scytonema yielded chili pepper averaging 1263 ± 46 g and lengths ranging from 12-17 cm. This soil showed only a few living filaments of Scytonema and the absence of a cyanobacterial community. Soil enriched with 30 % organic substrate without Scytonema yielded chili pepper averaging 1004 ± 41 g and lengths ranging from 12-15 cm. Production in untreated natural soil yielded chili pepper averaging 925 ± 47 g and length averaging 10 cm. Statistical analyses of the length of pepper showed significant differences, with greater length resulting from treatments with Scytonema ocellatum strain SCL1097-22 than with no treatment. This cyanobacterial strain is proposed as an alternative source of nutrients in organic faming.


cyanobacteriascytonema ocellatumsoilorganic farmingnitrogen fixation