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Comparison of Parthenolide Levels in Aquaponically vs. Conventionally Grown Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew)
Aquaponics is a bio-integrated system linking recirculating aquaculture with hydroponic vegetable, flower, or herb production eliminating the need for soil. With the increasing problem of limited access to quality nutrition in low income areas in inner city neighborhoods, the development of residential herbal dietary supplement agriculture may be of great benefit. Home production of herbal plants can be challenging due to limited agricultural land, cost, and inadequate space in small living accommodations. An in-home aquaponics system can be a suitable means of producing herbal products that may prove beneficial for patients suffering from nutritional deficiencies to help enhance their general health and/or quality of life. The aim of this project was (1) to design an aquaponics system that allows for minimization of space and (2) to determine if planted Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew) grown in an aquaponic system produces similar or increased parthenolide concentrations compared to traditionally grown soil controls. The self-sustaining system uses the waste products of the common goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus). Water is pumped from the 10 gallon tank to the plants using a drip irrigation system and then filtered through pea gravel before being returned to the tank. T. parthenium grown in the aquaponics system had significantly higher concentration of parthenolide at days 14 and 30 (p = 0.01, p = 0.04, respectively) and almost equal concentration at day 69 compared to the plants grown in soil. The results of this study demonstrate that feverfew can be grown in a small aquaponics system suitable for in-home use.