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Biodegradation and bioconversion of cellulose wastes using bacterial and fungal cells immobilized in radiopolymerized hydrogels

Resources Conservation and Recycling
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0921-3449(99)00028-2
  • Bacteria And Fungi
  • Cellulose Biodegradation
  • Hydrogels
  • Immobilization
  • Radiopolymerization
  • Agricultural Science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine


Abstract Annually, great amounts of cellulose wastes, which could be measured in many billions of tons, are produced worldwide as residues from agricultural activities and industrial food processing. Consequently, the use of microorganisms in order to remove, reduce or ameliorate these potential polluting materials is a real environmental challenge, which could be solved by a focused research concerning efficient methods applied in biological degradation processes. In this respect, the scope of this chapter is to present the state of the art concerning the biodegradation of redundant cellulose wastes from agriculture and food processing by continuous enzymatic activities of immobilized bacterial and fungal cells as improved biotechnological tools and, also, to report on our recent research concerning cellulose wastes biocomposting to produce natural organic fertilizers and, respectively, cellulose bioconversion into useful products, such as: ‘single-cell protein’ (SCP) or ‘protein-rich feed’ (PRF). In addition, there are shown some new methods to immobilize microorganisms on polymeric hydrogels such as: poly-acrylamide (PAA), collagen-poly-acrylamide (CPAA), elastin-poly-acrylamide (EPAA), gelatin-poly-acrylamide (GPAA), and poly-hydroxy-ethyl-methacrylate (PHEMA), which were achieved by gamma polymerization techniques. Unlike many other biodegradation processes, these methods were performed to preserve the whole viability of fungal and bacterial cells during long term bioprocesses and their efficiency of metabolic activities. The immobilization methods of viable microorganisms were achieved by cellular adherence mechanisms inside hydrogels used as immobilization matrices which control cellular growth by: reticulation size, porosity degree, hydration rate in different colloidal solutions, organic and inorganic compounds, etc. The preparative procedures applied to immobilize bacterial and fungal viable cells in or on radiopolymerized hydrogels and, also, their use in cellulose wastes biodegradation are discussed in detail. In all such performed experiments were used pure cell cultures of the following cellulolytic microorganisms: Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus licheniformis from bacteria, and Pleurotus ostreatus, Pleurotus florida, and Trichoderma viride from fungi. These species of microorganisms were isolated from natural habitats, then purified by microbiological methods, and finally, tested for their cellulolytic potential. The cellulose biodegradation, induced especially by fungal cultures, used as immobilized cells in continuous systems, was investigated by enzymatic assays and the bioconversion into protein-rich biomass was determined by mycelial protein content, during such long time processes. The specific changes in cellular development of immobilized bacterial and fungal cells in PAA hydrogels emphasize the importance of physical structure and chemical properties of such polymeric matrices used for efficient preservation of their metabolic activity, especially to perform in situ environmental applications involving cellulose biodegradation by using immobilized microorganisms as long-term viable biocatalysts.

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