A new strain of yeast called Yarrowia lipolytica Y-3492 was found to be very active in getting rid of toxic waste. The discovery was made by the KFU’s microbiologists during their research at Western Siberian peat bogs.
The strain is said to be effective against nitro compounds which are used in explosives, herbicides, insecticides, polymers, dyes, and some medications. Oil refineries and military equipment plants produce especially high amounts of such waste. The research was conducted with the use of widely known trinitrotoluene (TNT).
Senior research associate of Microbial Tech Lab Irina Khilyas explains, “Yarrowia lipolytica possess specific ferments that allow us to use them in bioremediation of wastewater polluted with TNT. We worked out a decontamination technique with the use of semicontinuous cultivation of said fungi. The lab tests that followed showed that this technology is viable”.
In four months Yarrowia lipolytica can reduce contamination 50-fold.
It is well-known that TNT can cause serious health damage. Chronic TNT poisoning affects blood, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and vision. Prolonged exposure can lead to cataract.
Yarrowia lipolytica's advantage in comparison with different sorbents is that fungi produce significantly less toxins. They are also more efficient than other known microorganisms.
It must also be noted that this strain can not only be used for biodegradation but also as a contamination detector. The express analysis with biosensor equipment takes only a few minutes.
This particular research is being conducted in cooperation with our traditional partners from Justus Liebig University Giessen. As a result, a ferment changing its color when in contact with nitro compounds was found.
Irina Khilyas adds, “We are in final stages of identification of necessary ferments. The next stage is to find the best carriers for ferment application. That will probably be a microchip on which the sample will be placed for further analysis”.
The results were published in such journals as FEMS Microbiology Letters, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Biodegradation, Mikrobiologiya (Russian). Biosensor and wastewater treatment technology were both patented. The search for business partners is currently underway.