Main content area

Social microbial inocula confer functional stability in a methyl tert-butyl ether extractive membrane biofilm bioreactor

Purswani, Jessica, Guisado, Isabel M., Coello-Cabezas, Julio, González-López, Jesús, Pozo, Clementina
Environmental pollution 2019 v.244 pp. 855-860
Agrobacterium, Paenibacillus, Rhodococcus ruber, alcohols, biofilm, bioreactors, inoculum, median effective concentration, metabolites
Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) degradation technologies based on two-phase partitioning systems such as extractive membrane biofilm reactors (EMBFR) permit separation of biological and contaminant compartments, thus allowing optimization of the biological section. In this study, we set-up an EMBFR with three MTBE-degrading and cooperating strains (termed social biofilm: Agrobacterium sp. MS2, Paenibacillus etheri SH7T and Rhodococcus ruber EE6). The removal efficiency of the social-biofilm EMBFR was 80%, and functional stability was observed in the reactor, i.e. more efficient than previous studies (single-strain inoculated EMBFR, <50% removal efficiency and unstable function). Metabolite tert-butyl alcohol was not observed, and the EC50 values were higher than those observed in single-strain EMBFRs. Comparative analysis of the MTBE enzymatic pathway and the social-biofilm was performed, where the mechanism of cooperation observed within the social-biofilm is likely due to enzymatic redundancy. Functional outcomes were equal to previous batch tests, hence 100% scalability was obtained. Overall, higher functional and stability outcomes are obtained with the use of the social-biofilm in an MTBE-EMBFR.