Paweł Kaszycki 1  
Paulina Supel 1  
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Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Horticulture, University of Agriculture in Kraków, 29. Listopada Ave., 31-425 Kraków, Poland
Publish date: 2014-07-01
J. Ecol. Eng. 2014; 15(3):14–22
Oil-containing wastewaters are regarded as main industrial pollutants of soil and water environments. They can occur as free-floating oil, unstable or stable oil-in-water (O/W) emulsions, and in the case of extreme organic load, as water-in-oil (W/O) emulsions. In this study two types of oily effluents, a typical O/W emulsion marked as E1 and a W/O emulsion E2, both discharged by local metal processing plants were examined to test their toxicity to microbial communities and the ability to serve as nutrient sources for bacterial growth. The organic contaminant load of the samples was evaluated on the basis of chemical oxygen demand (COD) parameter values and was equal to 48 200 mg O2·dm-3 and >300 000 mg O2·dm-3 for E1 and E2, respectively.Both emulsions proved to be non toxic to bacterial communities and were shown to contain biodiverse autochthonous microflora consisting of several bacterial strains adapted to the presence of xenobiotics (the total of 1.36 · 106 CFU·cm-3 and 1.72 · 105 CFU·cm-3 was determined for E1 and E2, respectively). These indigenous bacteria as well as exogenously inoculated specialized allochthonous microorganisms were biostimulated so as to proliferate within the wastewater environment whose organic content served as the only source of carbon. The most favorable cultivation conditions were determined as fully aerobic growth at the temperature of 25 ºC. In 9 to 18 day-tests, autochthonous as well as bioaugmented allochthonous bacterial population dynamics were monitored. For both emulsions tested there was a dramatic increase (up to three orders of magnitude) in bacterial frequency, as compared to the respective initial values. The resultant high biomass densities suggest that the effluents are susceptible to bioremediation. A preliminary xenobiotic biodegradation test confirmed that mixed auto- and allochthonous bacterial consortia obtained upon inoculation of the samples with microbiocenoses preselected for efficient hydrocarbon biodegradation led to a decrease in the organic pollution level.