Evaluation of a novel quorum quenching strain for MBR biofouling mitigation
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Membrane biofouling, due to Soluble Microbial Products (SMP) and Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS) deposition, results in reduction of the performance of Membrane Bioreactors (MBRs). However, recently, a new method of biofouling control has been developed, utilizing the interference of the bacterial inter- and intra-species' communication. Bacteria use Quorum Sensing (QS) to regulate the production of SMP and EPS. Therefore, disruption of Quorum Sensing (Quorum Quenching: QQ), by enzymes or microorganisms, may be a simple mean to control membrane biofouling. In the present study, a novel QQ-bacterium, namely Lactobacillus sp. SBR04MA, was isolated from municipal wastewater sludge and its ability to mitigate biofouling was evaluated by monitoring the changes in critical flux and transmembrane pressure, along with the production of EPS and SMP, in a lab-scale MBR system treating synthetic wastewater. Lactobacillus sp. SBR04MA showed great potential for biofouling control, which was evidenced by the ∼3-fold increase in critical flux (8.3 → 24.25 L/m2/h), as well as by reduction of the SMP and EPS production, which was lower during the QQ-period when compared against the control period. Furthermore, the addition of the QQ-strain did not affect the COD removal rate. Results suggested that Lactobacillus sp. SBR04MA represents a novel and promising strain for biofouling mitigation and enhancement of MBRs performance.
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