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  • Bacteriophage-based strategies for biofouling control in ultrafiltration: In situ biofouling mitigation, biocidal additives and biofilm cleanser.

Bacteriophage-based strategies for biofouling control in ultrafiltration: In situ biofouling mitigation, biocidal additives and biofilm cleanser.

Journal of colloid and interface science (2018-04-08)
Wen Ma, Magdalena Panecka, Nathalie Tufenkji, Md Saifur Rahaman
ABSTRACT

The ability of bacteriophages to infect and destroy specific bacteria makes them promising antimicrobial agents in industrial processes. In this study, potential strategies of bacteriophage-facilitated biofouling control during membrane ultrafiltration (UF) were investigated through use of the model T4 bacteriophage and the model host bacterium, Escherichia coli. In the dead-end filtration mode, phages were immobilized on the membrane surface to serve as biocidal agents and inhibit the propagation of bacteria in situ. After 6 h of filtration, a 36% flux reduction was observed for the T4-functionalized membrane in comparison to 71% for the non-functionalized membrane. Surface modification of the membrane using O2 plasma treatment resulted in increased numbers of bound phage and enhanced biofouling resistance of the membrane. Introducing the phage into the feed of a cross-flow filtration system effectively mitigated the water flux reduction of the membrane caused by bacterial growth. By modifying the concentration of phage additives, the growth of bacteria was delayed, inhibited, or eliminated. Phage treatment changed the structure of biofilms on the membrane surface and facilitated in situ biofilm cleaning. A 20% greater recovery in water flux was observed for the biofilm-contaminated membrane following phage-assisted cleaning when compared to the membrane cleaned via a physical washing process. Taken together, these results show that bacteriophage assisted anti-biofouling strategies have the potential to mitigate biofouling in membrane processes in an environmentally friendly manner.