Bioelectroremediation of hexadecane in electrical cells containing Aspergillus niger immobilized in alginate
Bioelectroremediation (BER) uses electrical current to stimulate catabolism of environmental pollutants, such as petroleum spills. However, applying current to soil may have adverse effects on the microorganisms involved in petroleum degradation. We identify and evaluate the BER capabilities of a strain of Aspergillus niger obtained from petroleum-contaminated soil. Spores of this strain immobilized in alginate spheres (2 g) were mixed with 100 g of hexadecane-contaminated sandy loam soil and exposed to 5, 10, or 15 mA direct current in a 200 cm3 cell with copper electrodes. Soil hexadecane concentration was measured by gas chromatography. More than 94% of hexadecane was removed from the soil within 12 days for the currents tested, and the A. niger grew to 6 x106 CFU g-1 in 15 days at 10 mA current. The maximum hexadecane degradation was achieved using a 10-mA current for 20 days, but more than 99% of the hexadecane was removed by the fifth day. These results suggest that the use of spore-containing alginate beads promotes growth and petroleum biodegradation of A. niger exposed to electrical currents.
Keywords: Aspergillus, bioelectroremediation, hexadecane, petroleum, soil.
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