Molecular basis for bacteria flocculant production

Arinze S. Okoli
Arinze  Okoli is the project leader

The activities of an industrial sector can impact other sectors of unrelated industries. For example, the water based industrial sector derives bio-flocculants from the environment; this can be impacted by agrochemicals such as glyphosate and AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid) introduced into the environment through agro-based sector related activities. One way to understand the impact of glyphosate and AMPA on the environment, and by extension sectors that derive resources from the environment, is to study the impact of this chemicals on bacteria flocculant production.

Bio-flocculants are increasingly employed in water and wastewater treatments for solid-liquid separation because they are biodegradable, environmentally safe and non-toxic. Several flocculant-producing bacteria species have been identified, but with variability both in their flocculant production ability and efficiency of produced flocculants. To maximize industrial application of bio-flocculants, optimization of several culture parameters is required to ensure high production of efficient bio-flocculants. This requires understanding of the mode of bacteria flocculant production at the molecular level.

The aims of the project include (1) to isolate and identify bacteria flocculant producers from Eastern Cape Province of South Africa; (2) to determine the mechanisms of bacterial flocculant production using comparative proteomic approach and pathway analysis; (3) to study the effects of glyphosate and AMPA on flocculant producing bacteria, and how this impacts the quality of bio-flocculants.

The project is funded by the South Africa-Norway Research cooperation (SANCOOP). The research is jointly executed in collaboration with our South African partners at the Water Resources for Sustainable Development Research Niche Area, Applied & Environmental Microbiology Research Group (AEMREG), Department of Biochemistry & Microbiology, University of Fort Hare, South Africa.