Investigating biofilm structure and function associated with point source water treatment

The Canadian government has increased the focus on regulating discharge of wastewater to the environment to avoid the release of excessive nutrient loads to water ways which can lead to the eutrophication of watersheds. The advent of new regulations many municipalities require substantial upgrades. Traditional wastewater treatment technologies are in some cases cost prohibitive. Bishop Water Technologies (BWT) provides an ecofriendly and cost-effective technology for treating Canadian wastewater (municipal and industrial) while removing nutrients to rivers and lakes. The BioCord technology relies on the formation of Biofilm, which is a natural aggregation of a complex community of microorganisms growing on a solid substrate. BioCord is a man-made polymer substrate suitable for biofilm growth (Yuan et al. 2012). The cord is covered with rings of thread, both rings and cord are made of different polymers. The premise is that BioCord provides more surface area for biofilm to attach and develop, mimicking underwater plants; the increased density of the biofim in principle has a direct relationship to the rate and efficiency of wastewater treatment. The substrates encourage the microbial process (Bacteria and Archaea) such as Methanogens, denitrification, phosphate removal (complexation) and/or sulphate reduction etc. The current challenge to developing this technology lies in a detailed understanding of the developing microbial biofilm associated with these BioCord substrates. In fact this technology still remains a black box from the perspective of optimum growth and treatment conditions under full scale implementation practice. Depending on the environment, different microbes will accumulate some nutrients better than others and in turn may promote or out compete the process dependent microbes (e.g. denitrifiers). We are currently using metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to identify and quantify the microbial species populating the different BioCord materials.

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