Effect of CO 2 and metal-rich waste water on bioproduct potential of the diazotrophic freshwater cyanobacterium, Tolypothrix sp.

Chinnathambi Velu, Samuel Cirés, Diane L. Brinkman, Kirsten Ruth Heimann

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    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Continued economic growth is reliant on stable, affordable energy, requiring at present fossil fuel-derived energy production. Coal-fired power stations produce metal-rich but macro-nutrient-poor waste waters and emit flue gas, containing ∼10% CO 2 . Algae and cyanobacteria remediate metals and CO 2 , but use of N 2 -fixing (diazotrophic)cyanobacteria can reduce nitrogen-fertilization costs. The resulting biomass represents a promising source for biofuel and bio-product development. This study investigated the effect of CO 2 - and trace metals on growth performance, biochemical profiles and metal content of the freshwater diazotrophic cyanobacterium Tolypothrix sp. to assess bioproduct potential. Aerated 2 L batch cultures were grown in simulated ash-dam water (SADW)and BG11 without nitrogen (BG11(-N)controls). Supplied air was supplemented with either 15% CO 2 or not (non-CO 2 controls). CO 2 supplementation resulted in 2.4 and 3.3-fold higher biomass productivities and 1.3 and 1.2-fold higher phycocyanin and phycoerythrin contents, whilst metals (media)had no effect. Al, Cu, Ni and V were more efficiently removed (50–90%)with CO 2 -addition, while As, Mo, Se and Sr removal was higher (30–87%)for non-CO 2 controls. No significant effect on Zn and Fe removal was evident. Calculated biomass metal concentrations, at quantities required to meet N-requirements of wheat, suggests no metal toxicity when applied as a mineral-nitrogen biofertilizer. With a carbohydrate content of 50%, the biomass is also suitable for bioethanol production. In summary, Tolypothrix sp. raised in ash dam waste water supplemented with flue gas CO 2 could yield high-value phycobiliproteins, bioethanol or biogas, and mineral-rich nitrogen fertilizer which would offset remediation costs and improve agricultural productivity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere01549
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


    • Agriculture
    • Biochemistry
    • Biotechnology
    • Plant biology


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