Navigation Links
'Bacterial shock' to recapture essential phosphate
Date:3/26/2012

Bacteria could be exploited to recapture dwindling phosphate reserves from wastewater according to research presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Conference in Dublin this week.

Phosphorus in the form of phosphate - is essential for all living things as a component of DNA and RNA and its role in cellular metabolism. Around 38 million tonnes of phosphorus are extracted each year from rock. Most of this extracted phosphorus goes into the production of fertilizers to replace the phosphates that plants remove from the soil. However, it is a scare natural resource and current estimates suggest that reserves of phosphate rock may only last for the next 45-100 years.

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast (QUB) are developing a novel biological process to remove extracted phosphate from wastewater where it ultimately ends up after manufacturing. Dr John McGrath who is leading the project explained, "Phosphate in wastewater is a pollutant that causes increased growth of algae and plants, reducing the oxygen available for aquatic organisms. This is known as eutrophication and poses the single biggest threat to water quality in Northern Ireland and indeed globally."

The work at QUB has focused on microorganisms that capture and store phosphate from wastewater, and how this process varies under different nutritional and environmental conditions. "A variety of microbes in wastewater accumulate phosphorus inside their cells and store it as a biopolymer known as polyphosphate. In some cases, this can represent up to 20% of the dry weight of the microorganism!" explained Dr McGrath. "If we can harness this process we have a feasible biotechnological route to remove and recycle phosphate from wastewater."

The team have recently discovered a physiological 'shock' treatment which significantly increases microbial uptake of phosphorus and its accumulation inside cells. "It's similar to jumping into the sea on a winter's day the first thing you do is take a sharp intake of breath. When we shock the microorganisms, their response is to take in phosphorus," explained Dr McGrath. "We've demonstrated this using activated sludge, containing a variety of microbes, from wastewater treatment works and shown this shock treatment is effective at producing a phosphorus-rich biomass suitable for phosphorus recycling."

Dr McGrath believes that developing such biotechnological processes is essential for regenerating valuable mineral resources. "No alternative to phosphorus exists we urgently need to find ways of recovering and recycling phosphates. It's a pollutant we can't live without." he said. "Phosphates are currently removed from wastewater by chemical methods, however this is expensive and results in the production of large volumes of sludge. In contrast, the process we are developing is sustainable and efficient."


'/>"/>
Contact: Laura Udakis
l.udakis@sgm.ac.uk
44-079-908-26696
Society for General Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New function of a bacterial photoresponsive protein: Resisting adhesion of mammalian cells
2. Bacterial plasmids -- the freeloading and the heavy-lifters -- balance the high price of disease
3. Polar growth at the bacterial scale reveals potential new targets for antibiotic therapy
4. Gulf of Mexico topography played key role in bacterial consumption of Deepwater Horizon spill
5. UGA scientists hijack bacterial immune system
6. Targeted antibacterial proteins may offer antibiotic alternative
7. Targeting bacterial gas defenses allow for increased efficacy of numerous antibiotics
8. Bacterial genes tell the tale of an outbreaks evolution
9. Texas A&M center confronts antibiotic crisis with potential new bacterial treatment
10. Researchers generate first complete 3-D structures of bacterial chromosome
11. University of California Santa Barbara study reveals how gas, temperature controlled bacterial response to Deepwater Horizon spill
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/2/2016)... -- The Department of Transport Management (DOTM) of ... US Dollar project, for the , Supply and ... and IT Infrastructure , to Decatur ... of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors participated in ... was selected for the most compliant and innovative solution. ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... MINNEAPOLIS , May 20, 2016  VoiceIt ... technology partnership with VoicePass. By working ... user experience.  Because VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly ... two engines increases both security and usability. ... expressed excitement about this new partnership. ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... India , April 28, 2016 ... Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung SDS, a ... that will provide end customers with a more secure, ... services.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ) , ... services, but it also plays a fundamental part in enabling ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today ... Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am ... and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Ky. , June 23, 2016 ... two Phase 1 clinical trials of its complement ... placebo-controlled, single and multiple ascending dose studies designed ... pharmacodynamics (PD) of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult ... subcutaneously (SC) either as a single dose (ranging ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Andrew ... http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 Published recently in ... journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , ... cancer care is placing an increasing burden on ... biologic therapies. With the patents on many biologics ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... (EDC) software, is exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase its ... Annual conference. ClinCapture will also be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical ...
Breaking Biology Technology: