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Texas A&M AgriLife Research

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Superfund Research Program

Efficient Bioremediation of Environmentally Persistent Contaminants with Nanomaterial-Fungus Framework (NFF)

Project Leaders: Susie Dai, Joshua S. Yuan (Texas A&M University), Gregory V. Lowry (Carnegie Mellon University)
Grant Number: R01ES032708
Funding Period: 2021-2025
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Summary

Recalcitrant and harmful chemicals such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) endangers the environment, wildlife, and human health profoundly. Among different strategies, bioremediation was established as an effective and reliable solution for remediating persistent environmental contaminants like PFASs. Fungi, such as basidiomycetes (white rot fungi) are used in bioremediation of PFAS for their strong extracellular biocatalytic capacity with great promise. However, several factors limit commercial applications:

  • Need for nutrient addition as the carbon source for the microbe.
  • Need to immobilize fungus biomass as pellets to prevent fungus dispersion onto reactor wall.
  • Bacterial competition.
  • Low efficiency due to the low chemical availability to the fungal mycelium and slow fungus growth.

This project will address the imminent challenges of remediating persistent and toxic environmental contaminants using the uniquely designed Nanomaterial-Fungus Framework (NFF). The NFF is a system that novel nano-materials create a biomimic scaffold where fungus can grow, and the scaffold enriches trace level contaminants that fungus can degrade. The researchers aim to unveil the fundamental biodegradation mechanisms of the NFF system, which provides future guidance to modify and improve the system. The engineered NFF system will offer a novel strategy that applies toward a broad range of environmental pollutant bioremediation practices.

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