(609e) Symbiotic Microbial Communities for Cleaning Agricultural Waters and Bioenergy Production | AIChE

(609e) Symbiotic Microbial Communities for Cleaning Agricultural Waters and Bioenergy Production


Rajendran, A. - Presenter, University of Minnesota
Hu, B., University of Minnesota
Barnharst, T., University of Minnesota
Reis, C., University of Minnesota
Hespanhol, B., University of Minnesota
With increase in intensive crop and livestock production, the excess application of P as fertilizer and manure contributes to the build-up of soil P levels causing eutrophication [1, 2]. Currently a curative solution to combat water pollution by recuperating N and P, recycling the P for food production by closing the nutrient loop to effectively manage dwindling rock P reserve are the major challenges. The most common phosphorus removal techniques for municipal and industrial wastewater are biological treatment and chemical precipitation. Bio-valorization offers an excellent alternative to chemical treatment technologies as the biomass produced can be a source of protein and other valuable bio-chemicals and bio-fuels in this low cost technology. In this present work, a novel symbiotic microbial community called mycoalgae biofilm [3] was developed using the isolated strains of polyphosphate accumulating fungi and microalgae for cleaning agricultural waters and bioenergy production. We want to apply this platform for the efficient recovery and recycling of nutrients in waste stream. The effect of various process conditions on the nutrient recovery efficiency and the changes in the biofilm biomass composition was studied. Since the biofilm will be used for nutrient recovery from an array of samples, a synthetic medium for the cell growth was used as the medium for the biofilm development to have different initial conditions. Depending on the nature of the wastewater and its composition, and the fungi-microalgae combination intended to use for bio-remediation, the developed mycoalgae biofilm can be a sustainable microbial process for food, feed or energy source. The composite biofilm shows promising results in wastewater treatment especially in removing the N, P, suspended solids and other organics from nutrient polluted water in a single-step reactor with easy biomass recovery and high efficiency, when compared to the individual pure cell cultures. The biofilm attaches to the polymer matrix, leaving behind the clean water for recirculation, and the composite biomass for nutrient recycle. The commercial expansion of this biofilm system could be a step ahead in having integrated and sustainable water treatment systems.


  1. E.K. Wilson, Danger from microcystins in Toledo water unclear, Chem. Eng. News, 92 (32) (2014), p. 9
  2. Ye, Y., Gan, J., & Hu, B. (2015). Screening of phosphorus-accumulating fungi and their potential for Phosphorus removal from waste streams. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 177(5), 1127-1136.
  3. Aravindan Rajendran and Bo Hu, Mycoalgae biofilm: development of a novel platform technology using algae and fungal cultures, Biotechnology for Biofuels, 20169:112, DOI: 10.1186/s13068-016-0533-y