Biotechnology for Biological Wastewater Treatment

Biotechnology for Biological Wastewater Treatment

Generally, people think that Biotechnology cannot be used utilized in biological wastewater treatment plants except its useful only for research studies!! However, the fundamental nature of wastewater is highly dynamic due to the inherent complexity of microbial communities and their interactions in relation to predisposed environmental conditions.

Biotechnology plays a crucial role in increasing the efficiency of biological wastewater treatment process. If we could understand what kinds of micro-organisms are present in any given wastewater; we can improve the process of wastewater treatment significantly.

Unique Characteristics of Wastewater: Wastewater is of several different types and from different sources; each contains a unique characteristics, but generally high in nutrient load (Nitrogen, Phosphorus) which can be exploited if micro organisms are used to feed on them.

Do you know that micro-organisms help in the treatment process! Micro-organisms take in the pollutants present in wastewater just as we would take in food and thereby reduce the concentration of such pollutants. They multiply every time they have good amount of food and the right conditions for growth. The more times they multiply, the more they are able to tackle heavy pollutants in wastewater. This is the fundamental principle of Biological wastewater treatment, the reason why biological treatment is very popular among wastewater treatment methodologies. This is much cheaper than using chemicals or other methods.

The major domains of Biotechnology in wastewater treatment are classified as Metagenomics, Metatranscriptomics and Metabolomics; each referring to the type of information we require about the microbial community.

Next Generation sequencing methods are used to sequence the genetic information of microbial communities. Some of these methods include Fluorescent in situ hybridization commonly known as FISH, 454-Pyrosequencing and Illumina sequencing. These sequencing methods quickly read through the vast amounts of genetic code and give the nature of microbial associations present within a given system such as a wastewater treatment plant.

Interpreting this vast amount of generated data is the next challenge. There are several molecular visualization methods such as the KRONA chart, which can give a complete picture of the evolutionary relationship between the vast numbers of micro-organisms present in a particular environment. If such methods are used in routine analysis of wastewater in treatment plants, we can surely increase the efficiency of biological wastewater treatment methods and is very economical.

Biotechnology for Biological Wastewater Treatment
Dr. V. R. Manoj,
HOD, Biotechnology,

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