Inducible Surface Hydrophobicity of Microbial Consortia for Biofilm Remediation

Period of Performance: 03/01/2005 - 02/28/2006


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Foster-miller, Inc.
350 Second Ave.
Waltham, MA 02451
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Tufts University
20 Professors Row
Medford, MA 02155
Institution POC


Free-phase pollutants are persistent environmental contaminants. The feasibility of an enhanced process of in situ free-phase pollutant removal by micro-organisms that had been pre-adapted to the pollutant free-phase surface was confirmed during Phase I. The high affinity of the micro-organisms to the pollutant free-phase resulted from their increased hydrophobicity. More importantly, the inductiveness of the culture hydrophobicity by exposure to contaminants was demonstrated. It was shown in Phase I that the biofilm formation on free-phase pollutants was a two-stage process, involving first the colonization of the microbial population at the interface and secondly, a steady stage in which the culture continuously degraded the contaminants and the flux of chlorinated solvents into water was reduced by two orders of magnitude. During Phase II, the pre-adapted micro-organisms will be genetically evaluated. Mechanisms of controlled microbial death upon the substrate exhaustion will assure environmental safety. The biosafety of the selected organisms will be confirmed. The microbiological products will be formulated and their stability will be evaluated for their use and commercialization during Phase III. Pilot-scale studies involving the monitoring of the distribution of the organisms and their performance after injection in a simulated soil/water environment will also be carried out. (P-040445)