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Optimization of a Bioremediation Strategy for an Urban Stream of Matanza-Riachuelo Basin

Authors: María D. Groppa, Andrea Trentini, Myriam Zawoznik, Roxana Bigi, Carlos Nadra, Patricia L. Marconi


In the present work, a remediation bioprocess based on the use of a local isolate of the microalgae Chlorella vulgaris immobilized in alginate beads is proposed. This process was shown to be effective for the reduction of several chemical and microbial contaminants present in Cildáñez stream, a water course that is part of the Matanza-Riachuelo Basin (Buenos Aires, Argentina). The bioprocess, involving the culture of the microalga in autotrophic conditions in a stirred-tank bioreactor supplied with a marine propeller for 6 days, allowed a significant reduction of Escherichia coli and total coliform numbers (over 95%), as well as of ammoniacal nitrogen (96%), nitrates (86%), nitrites (98%), and total phosphorus (53%) contents. Pb content was also significantly diminished after the bioprocess (95%). Standardized cytotoxicity tests using Allium cepa seeds and Cildáñez water pre- and post-remediation were also performed. Germination rate and mitotic index of onion seeds imbibed in Cildáñez water subjected to the bioprocess was similar to that observed in seeds imbibed in distilled water and significantly superior to that registered when untreated Cildáñez water was used for imbibition. Our results demonstrate the potential of this simple and cost-effective technology to remove urban-water contaminants, offering as an additional advantage the possibility of an easy biomass recovery, which may become a source of alternative energy.

Keywords: Bioreactor, bioremediation, Chlorella vulgaris, Matanza-Riachuelo basin, microalgae.

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