Fungal Degradation of Environmental Pollutants

Research into this area occurred for a few years in the Logan laboratory (at the University of Arizona). In the late 1980’s, it was discovered that fungi had an amazing ability to degrade a variety of environmental pollutants. This amazing ability was offset by the fact that fungi have extremely complex growth cycles. What we discovered was that the fungi produced enzymes necessary for pollutant degradation just prior to the end of their growth cycle in static flasks. Thus, the time when they were best able to produce enzymes capable of pollutant decomposition, was just when the culture life cycle was nearly over due to asphyxiation from loss of oxygen transport into the growth medium. To overcome this limitation, we developed a system to study batch growth under reactor conditions more suitable to fixed film bioreactors such as trickling filters. These reactors are shown below. Additional details are contained in the referenced publications below.

Rotating tube bioreactors developed to study pollutant degradation using fungal biofilms.

Fungal biofilms from reactors (left to right): Phanerochaete chrysosporium ME-446, Trametes versicolor MAD 697, and Inonotus dryophilus RLG 16297


Journal Publications

1995 Alleman, B.C., B.E. Logan, G.L. Amy and R.L. Gilbertson. 1995. Degradation of pentachlorophenol by white rot fungi in rotating tube bioreactors. Wat. Res. 29(1):61-67.

1994 Logan, B.E., B.C. Alleman, G.L. Amy and R.L. Gilbertson 1994. Adsorption and removal of pentachlorophenol by white rot fungi in batch cultures. Wat. Res. 28(7):1533-1538.

1993 Alleman, B.C., B.E. Logan, and R.L. Gilbertson. 1993. A rapid method to screen fungi for resistance to toxic chemicals. Biodegradation. 4:125-129.

1992 Alleman, B.C., B.E. Logan, and R.L. Gilbertson. 1992. Toxicity of pentachlorophenol to six species of white rot fungi as a function of chemical dose. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 58(12):4048-4050.

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