TorOve Leiknes


3 Quorum Quenching Activities of Bacteria Isolated from Red Sea Sediments

Authors: Zahid Rehman, TorOve Leiknes


Quorum sensing (QS) is the process by which bacteria communicate with each other through small signaling molecules, such as N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs). Also, certain bacteria have the ability to degrade AHL molecules by a process referred to as quorum quenching (QQ); therefore, QQ can be used to control bacterial infections and biofilm formation. In this study, we aimed to identify new species of bacteria with QQ activities. To achieve this, sediments from Red Sea were collected either in the close vicinity of Sea grass or from area with no vegetation. From these samples, we isolated 72 bacterial strains and tested their ability to degrade/inactivate AHL molecules. Chromobacterium violaceum based bioassay was used in initial screening of isolates for QQ activity. The QQ activity of the positive isolates was further confirmed and quantified by employing liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. These analyses showed that isolated bacterial strain could degrade AHL molecules with different acyl chain length and modifications. Sequencing of 16S-rRNA genes of positive isolates revealed that they belong to three different genera. Specifically, two isolates belong to genus Erythrobacter, four to Labrenzia and one isolate belongs to Bacterioplanes. Time course experiment showed that isolate belonging to genus Erythrobacter could degrade AHLs faster than other isolates. Furthermore, these isolates were tested for their ability to inhibit formation of biofilm and degradation of 3OXO-C12 AHLs produced by P. aeruginosa PAO1. Our results showed that isolate VG12 is better at controlling biofilm formation. This aligns with the ability of VG12 to cause at least 10-fold reduction in the amount of different AHLs tested.

Keywords: Biofilm, quorum sensing, quorum quenching, anti-biofouling

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2 Regeneration of a Liquid Desiccant Using Membrane Distillation to Unlock Coastal Desert Agriculture Potential

Authors: TorOve Leiknes, Kimberly J. Cribbs, Ryan M. Lefers, Noreddine Ghaffour


In Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, domestic agriculture is hindered by a lack of freshwater, poor soil quality, and ambient temperatures unsuitable for cultivation resulting in a heavy reliance on imported food. Attempts to minimize the risk of food insecurity by growing crops domestically creates a significant demand on limited freshwater resources in this region. Cultivating food in a greenhouse allows some of these challenges, such as poor soil quality and temperatures unsuitable for cultivation, to be overcome. One of the most common methods for greenhouse cooling is evaporative cooling. This method cools the air by the evaporation of water and requires a large amount of water relative to that needed for plant growth and air with a low relative humidity. Considering that much of the population in GCC countries live within 100 km of a coast and that sea water can be utilized for evaporative cooling, coastal agriculture could reduce the risk of food insecurity and water demand. Unfortunately, coastal regions tend to experience both high temperatures and high relative humidity causing evaporative cooling by itself to be inadequate. Therefore, dehumidification is needed prior to utilizing evaporative cooling. Utilizing a liquid desiccant for air dehumidification is promising, but the desiccant regeneration to retain its dehumidification potential remains a significant obstacle for the adoption of this technology. This project studied the regeneration of a magnesium chloride (MgCl₂) desiccant solution from 20wt% to 30wt% by direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) and explored the possibility of using the recovered water for irrigation. Two 0.2 µm hydrophobic PTFE membranes were tested at feed temperatures of 80, 70, and 60°C and with a permeate temperature of 20°C. It was observed that the permeate flux increases as the difference between the feed and coolant temperature increases and also as the feed concentration decreases. At 21wt% the permeate flux was 34,17, and 14 L m⁻² h⁻¹ for feed temperatures of 80, 70, and 60°C, respectively. Salt rejection decreased overtime; however, it remained greater than 99.9% over an experimental time span of 10 hours. The results show that DCMD can successfully regenerate the magnesium chloride desiccant solution.

Keywords: Agriculture, direct contact membrane distillation, GCC countries, liquid desiccant, water recovery

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1 Alternative Biocides to Reduce Algal Fouling in Seawater Industrial Cooling Towers

Authors: TorOve Leiknes, Mohammed Al-Bloushi, Sanghyun Jeong


Biofouling in the open recirculating cooling water systems may cause biological corrosion, which can reduce the performance, increase the energy consummation and lower heat exchange efficiencies of the cooling tower. Seawater cooling towers are prone to biofouling due to the presences of organic and inorganic compounds in the seawater. The availability of organic and inorganic nutrients, along with sunlight and continuous aeration of the cooling tower contributes to an environment that is ideal for microbial growth. Various microorganisms (algae, fungi, and bacteria) can grow in a cooling tower system under certain environmental conditions. The most commonly being used method to control the biofouling in the cooling tower is the addition of biocides such as chlorination. In this study, algae containing diatom and green algae were added to the cooling tower basin, and its viability was monitored in the recirculating cooling seawater loop as well as in the cooling tower basin. Continuous addition of biocides was employed in pilot-scale seawater cooling towers, and it was operated continuously for 2 months. Three different types of oxidizing biocides, namely chlorine, chlorine dioxide and ozone, were tested. The results showed that all biocides were effective in keeping the biological growth to the minimum regardless of algal addition. Amongst the biocides, ozone could reduce 99% of total live cells of bacteria and algae, followed by chlorine dioxide at 97%, while the conventional chlorine showed only 89% reduction in the bioactivities.

Keywords: Biofouling, Algae, biocide, seawater cooling tower

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