Development of Fungal Bioreactors for Water Related Treatment and Disinfection Applications
Umstead, Russell Blake
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Wastewater, recycled irrigation water, and agricultural runoff can contain high levels of pathogenic bacteria, which pose a threat to human and ecosystem health. The use of a bioreactor containing mycelial mats of filamentous fungi is a novel treatment technology that incorporates physical, biological, and biochemical processes to remove bacterial pathogens from influent water. Although a relatively new concept, fungal bioreactors have demonstrated the ability to dramatically reduce fecal coliform bacteria in water, but no studies have attempted to explicitly identify the bacterial pathogen removal mechanisms exhibited by the fungi. This study evaluated several different species of fungi for use in fungal bioreactor systems and aimed to identify the modes of action responsible for the removal of bacterial pathogens. The species evaluated were Daedaleopsis confragosa, Pleurotus eryngii, and Piptoporus betulinus. Experimental results showed that all species of fungi assessed were capable of removing E. coli in a synthetic water solution. Significant concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic, were produced by all species of fungi evaluated. The fungal bioreactors containing P. eryngii produced the highest concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, generating a maximum concentration of 30.5 mg/l or 0.896 mM. This maximum value exceeds reported minimum concentrations required to demonstrate bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects when continually applied, providing evidence that a major bacterial removal mode of action is the production of antimicrobial compounds. In addition to its promising application to improve water quality, fungal bioreactors are a low cost and passive treatment technology. The development a hyper-functional system could be a have a substantial impact on the use of recycled irrigation water and on the water/wastewater treatment industry, for both municipal and agricultural wastewater.
- Masters Theses