Faculty Advisor

Dr. Jill Rulfs

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Ronald Cheetham

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Pamela J. Weathers

Faculty Advisor

Dr. John Sullivan


The development of a plant growth chamber capable of sustaining plant growth over multiple generations is a necessary step towards the attainment of a Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS). The studies herein examine the effects of aeration abilities and rates on plants grown in three model nutrient delivery systems during germination and over the life-cycle of the plant. These studies are the first time a porous tube nutrient delivery system was compared to another active nutrient mist delivery system. During germination an indicator of hypoxic stress, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activity, was measured and was more affected by aeration rate than mode of nutrient delivery. Over the life-cycle of the plant, however, plants grown in the porous tube system had the least ADH activity and the highest levels of shoot (leaf + stem), root and leaf biomass. None of the plants in any system, however, produced viable seed. This study highlights the need to optimize aeration capabilities in the root zone of enclosed chambers.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Biology & Biotechnology

Project Type


Date Accepted





advanced life support, ethylene, carbon dioxide, pisum sativum, root hypoxia, oxygen, bioregenerative life support, Growth (Plants), Plant growing media, Dehydrogenases, Aeration