Soil and water biological treatment with white-rot fungi (P. chrysosporium) - Great potential or novelty?
Back when I started working in bioremediation and wastewater treatment, much research was conducted on using various white-rot fungi to biologically treat resistant xenobiotic compounds and decolorize paper mill and textile wastewater. As I have never seen large scale application of this technology, I wanted to see if there was any new novel research and ways to improve on early methods.
Background on P. chrysosporium
Like other white-rot fungi, P. chrysosporium is a basidiomycete fungi which produces a number of complex extracellular enzymes that breakdown lignin. In nature, the white-rot fungi are one of the primary decomposers of wood. What is most interesting for waste treatment is the ability of the lignin peroxidase and glyoxal oxidase to act on other pollutants (non-specific enzyme activity).
Early test involved using white-rot fungi to decolorize pulp mill effluent where lignin creates highly colored water. In doing bench tests, researchers found the fungal enzymes also dechlorinated some of the halogenated organics found in chlorine bleached pulp wastewater. This started a whole new area of research into using white-rot fungi to bioremediate such compounds as:
Revisiting the use of white-rot
With increased focus on decoloriziation and degrading many trace pharmaceutical products in wastewater, it may be time to reevaluate white-rot. Since target waste treatment is via a cometabolic pathway, we can use a relative inert carrier to hold/feed the white-rot cultures. The enzymes produced by the white-rot organisms can then cometabolize many of the problem trace xenobiotics.
Key items for research are:
Erik Rumbaugh has been involved in biological waste treatment for over 20 years. He has worked with industrial and municipal wastewater facilities to ensure optimal performance of their treatment systems. He is a founder of Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com) specializing in biological waste treatment.
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