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Sci Rep. 2014 Feb 28;4:4131. doi: 10.1038/srep04131.

Bioconversion of wastewater from sweet potato starch production to Paenibacillus polymyxa biofertilizer for tea plants.

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Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China.
School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, 5005, Australia.
Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hunan 410125, China.


Wastewater from the sweet potato starch industry is a large source of nutrient-rich substrates. We assessed whether this wastewater could be used to produce Paenibacillus polymyxa biofertilizer for foliar application to tea trees. Using the central composite design methods we experientially determined that the optimal culture conditions for P. polymyxa were pH, 6.5; temperature, 29.0 °C; and incubation time, 16 h. Under these conditions, a maximum biomass of 9.7 × 10(9) cfu/mL was achieved. We then conducted a yearlong field investigation to determine the effect of P. polymyxa biofertilizer on the growth of tea plants (Camellia sinensis). Tea yield, quantity of water extract, and tea polyphenol levels were significantly higher after foliar application of the biofertilizer compared to that in the controls by an average of 16.7%, 6.3%, and 10.4%, respectively. This approach appears to be technically feasible for organic tea production, and is an environmentally friendly way to utilize wastewater.

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