Activation and immobilization of phenol-degrading bacteria on oil palm residues for enhancing phenols degradation in treated palm oil mill effluent

  • Tosu, Panida (Environmental Biotechnology Research Unit, Faculty of Environmental Management, Prince of Songkla University) ;
  • Luepromchai, Ekawan (Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University) ;
  • Suttinun, Oramas (Environmental Biotechnology Research Unit, Faculty of Environmental Management, Prince of Songkla University)
  • Received : 2014.06.24
  • Accepted : 2015.03.03
  • Published : 2015.06.30


The presence of phenols in treated palm oil mill effluent (POME) is an environmental concern due to their phytotoxicity and antimicrobial activity. In this study, phenol-degrading bacteria, Methylobacterium sp. NP3 and Acinetobacter sp. PK1 were immobilized on oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFBs) for removal of phenols in the treated POME. The bacterial exopolysaccharides (EPS) were responsible for cell adhesion to the EFBs during the immobilization process. These immobilized bacteria could effectively remove up to 5,000 mg/L phenol in a carbon free mineral medium (CFMM) with a greater degradation efficiency and rate than that with suspended bacteria. To increase the efficiency of the immobilized bacteria, three approaches, namely activation, acclimation, and combined activation and acclimation were applied. The most convenient and efficient strategy was found when the immobilized bacteria were activated in a CFMM containing phenol for 24 h before biotreatment of the treated POME. These activated immobilized bacteria were able to remove about 63.4% of 33 mg/L phenols in the treated POME, while non-activated and/or acclimated immobilized bacteria could degrade only 35.0%. The activated immobilized bacteria could be effectively reused for at least ten application cycles and stored for 4 weeks at $4^{\circ}C$ with the similar activities. In addition, the utilization of the abundant EFBs gives value-added to the palm oil mill wastes and is environmentally friendly thus making it is attractive for practical application.


Supported by : Prince of Songkla University


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