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Bioresource Technology
Volume 270, 2018, Pages 656-668

Quorum sensing and quenching in membrane bioreactors: Opportunities and challenges for biofouling control

Kibaek Leea,1,Huarong Yub,1, Xiaolei Zhanga, Kwang-HoChooa,c

Advanced Institute of Water Industry, Kyungpook National University, 80 Daehak-ro, Buk-gu, Daegu 41566, Republic of Korea.


Membrane biofouling, due to biofilm growth after planktonic bacteria attachment to a membrane, is a major bottleneck limiting the energy-efficient operation and maintenance of membrane bioreactors (MBRs). Microbial communications, known as quorum sensing (QS), are responsible for this biofouling behavior. Novel strategies for stopping this communication, known as quorum quenching (QQ), appear to be successful for biofouling control in MBRs used for wastewater treatment. This review describes recent information regarding the signal molecules and mechanisms responsible for QS behaviors, promising approaches for QQ (enzymatic, bacterial, fungal, photocatalytic, mimicking, and biostimulating methods), and efficient fabrication and use of QQ media for MBR applications. We discuss the opportunities and challenges of QQ techniques for their further improvement and practical use in MBRs.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Signal molecule, Microbial ecology, Biofouling, Membrane process, Fouling control.

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