2006 - 2008
Biodegradation of pollutants is a natural process by which unwanted organic chemicals in the environment are converted to simpler compounds, mineralized and redistributed through elemental cycles such as the carbon,nitrogen and sulphur cycles.Biodegrdation of polymers  (in comparison with non-polymeric pollutants)is a newly emerging field much needed by unwanted environmental pollution by natural and synthtic polymeric materials, frequently accompanied by low molecular xenobiotics.The various aspects of cellulose as a (natural, polymeric) main polutant are considered in view of its lack of toxicity on the one hand and its recalcitrant durable nature on the other. The microbial degradation of cellulosics is discussed, and the contrast between its successs in handling cellulose wastes versus its failure to cope with man - made refuse is described. Reserch carried out in the past decade has demonstrated that cellulolytic organisms are provided with cell surface multifunctional multienzyme conglomerates (cellulosomes) which are capable of solubilizing cellulosic substrates.However, for the  progress in establishing efficient biotechnology for a tailor - made solubilization of cellulose wastes, the applicable knowledge about the intriguing properties of cellulolytic microorganisms, their many enzymatic components,their substrate targetting mechanism etc., is still missing.Furthermore,the technological R & D must meet the fundamental limitations of such  biotechnolgies, i.e.very complex interaction between biotic factors, including the specific properties of cellulolytic microflora, cell response to the effect of stressors, morphogenetic specifity of cellulolytic microorganisms, versatility of their (key) biochemical activities etc. and, on the other hand, the cellulose composition, especially its complexity with hemicellulose and lignin, as wel as abiotic factors such as molar mass, crystalinity and  chemical modifications of this polymer as well as  the physicochemical properties of technological environment. The  purpose-built reactor design and technology set up is another field of this R & D, among others. Biodegradation of synthtic polymers offers Similar survey of topics... In both cases,the application of immobilized degradative microflora is judged as a general innovative element of these environmental technologies. In this context, the inovative element of this project is technological employmentof of cell populations of aforementioned microbial degraders  in the form of natural biofilm and the application of additives incresing the polymeric pollutant bioavailability. The complex development of technoloicaly applicable degradative microflora capble to colonize reproducibly the surface of a carrier or solid polymeric wastes  will be based on the obtained knowledge how bacterial and fungal celladjust their biochemistry and behaviour to live as 3D multicellular consortia and what triggers cause that suspended microbial cell begun to colonize a solid surface and adjust to a sedentary , multicellular existence. Moreover, to achieve this it is necessary as well to solve tasks connected with biological, physico-chemical and engineering aspects of a biofilm use in thus oriented environmental biotechnology. Furthermore,any development in the field of the biodegrdation of polymeric polutants must in particular focus onthe mode of own application of the biodegrader(s) engaged what represents a wide range of possibilities for process upgrading and tailor-made implementation of apropriate tretatmnets. In general the project intends to pay attention to all biological and engineering aspects of technological efficiency, technological drawbacks and technological (environmental) impacts. In this connection, a programme of international cooperation was set up and aimed at module  R & D in these fields of research: 1)
Phenotype analysis and characterization of selected bacterial and fungal strains applicable in a biofilm based degradation of polymeric subsstrates, i.e. cellulose wastes and selected synthetic polymers used in healthcare sector and mostly modified by antimicrobial finishing treatment; 2) Analysis and elucidation of factors triggering and affecting the formation and function of multicellular consortia of biodegraders; 3) Development of strain mixtures aimly combining the capacity to degrde polymeric and low molecular substrate as a blended pollutant; 4) Biochemical characterization of the enzyme systems determining given degradative activity; 5) Developmet of methodology enabling to monitor and vizualize the process of biodegrdation; 6) Immobilized-cell bioreactor design to be used in continuous biodegradable processes; 7) Experimental approaches veryfying the effect of additives affecting the bioavailability of model polymeric substrates to be degraded; 8) Functional analysis of long-term viable bicatalysts; 9) Methodology to ellucidate the efficiency of a polymeric substrate bioconversion into proteins; 10) The carrier material choice; 11) Technology set up if immobilized and suspended biodegrders are applied. Thus future work should address all (mostly missing) physiological, biochemcal and technological aspects that tailors technological functions and properties of  bacterial and fungal degraders of key polymeric pollutants.The intention of the project is to develop complex experimental approach that combines laboratory-based techniques with field-based relevance.
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