Co-cultivation, metal stress and molasses: strategies to improving exopolymeric yield and metal removal efficacy

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This study investigated and compared several improvement strategies to increase the yield and quality of exopolymeric substances (EPS) from Bacillus cereus. This includes co-culturing of B. cereus with Trichoderma asperellum, cultivation in media with metal (Zn) stress and supplementation with molasses. EPS is subsequently extracted from these different cultures and subjected to characterization and metal removal tests in single-metal systems (Cu, Pb, Zn, Cd, Cr). Results indicate that co-cultivation of B. cereus and T. asperellum produced EPS which have attributes differing from single cultivation. These changes were detected via functional group changes using Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, as well as the increase in carbohydrate and protein content. However, the interaction of these two microbes were merely additive and did not result in improved EPS yield nor the subsequent metal removal efficacy in comparison to single cultivation (control). By contrast, supplementation of Zn (metal stress with 50 mg L− 1 Zn) improved EPS quality and metal removal, but decreased EPS yield. The application of 1% molasses was the only strategy demonstrating high yield and efficient metal removal. EPS quality and yield (0.45 mg mL− 1) and metal removal efficacy (Cu: 58%, Pb: 98%, Zn: 83%, Cd: 73%, Cr: 96%) were improved significantly. This study showed that among the three improvement strategies (co-cultivation, metal stress, molasses), supplementation with molasses was the most effective as it improved both yield and quality of EPS significantly, suggesting that this approach may be adopted for future production of bulk EPS for up-scaling of wastewater treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Number of pages14
JournalSustainable Environment Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Biosorption
  • Co-cultivation
  • Exopolymeric substances
  • Metal stress
  • Molasses
  • Wastewater treatment

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