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Water Research
Vol. 46, No: 6, 2012, Pages: 1723-34

Self-bioremediation of cork-processing wastewaters by (chloro)phenol-degrading bacteria immobilised onto residual cork particles

del Castillo I, Hernández P, Lafuente A, Rodríguez-Llorente ID, Caviedes MA, Pajuelo E

Departamento de Microbiología y Parasitología, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Sevilla, c/Profesor García González, 2, 41012 Sevilla, Spain.


Cork manufacturing is a traditional industry in Southern Europe, being the main application of this natural product in wine stoppers and insulation. Cork processing begins at boiling the raw material. As a consequence, great volumes of dark wastewaters, with elevated concentrations of chlorophenols, are generated, which must be depurated through costly physicochemical procedures before discarding them into public water courses. This work explores the potential of bacteria, isolated from cork-boiling waters storage ponds, in bioremediation of the same effluent. The bacterial population present in cork-processing wastewaters was analysed by DGGE; low bacterial biodiversity was found. Aerobic bacteria were isolated and investigated for their tolerance against phenol and two chlorophenols. The most tolerant strains were identified by sequencing 16S rDNA. The phenol-degrading capacity was investigated by determining enzyme activities of the phenol-degrading pathway. Moreover, the capacity to form biofilms was analysed in a microtitre plate assay. Finally, the capacity to form biofilms onto the surface of residual small cork particles was evaluated by acridine staining followed by epifluorescence microscopy and by SEM. A low-cost bioremediation system, using phenol-degrading bacteria immobilised onto residual cork particles (a by-product of the industry) is proposed for the remediation of this industrial effluent (self-bioremediation).

Keywords:cork-processing wastewaters;16S rDNA;low bacterial biodiversity;phenol-degrading bacteria;self-bioremediation.



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