Metabolic uptake of arsenic by extremophile microalgae

Groundwater contamination with arsenic is a widespread problem in various regions. In some areas of Bangladesh e.g., the contamination affects as much as 91% of the publicly available wells, in which the arsenic-concentration reaches up to 500 µg/L [1].  Biological removal of arsenic from drinking water is a promising option to enable a water cleaning technology with a minimum dependency on operating resources. For the ongoing works red algae are chosen for this bio remediation task. Red algae, which contain gene arsM are able to methylate arsenic from watery phase to di- or trimethylarsin.
It could be shown, that G. sulphuraria is tolerant to arsenic levels in the desired concentration range and a suitable organism to be applied for technological removal of arsenic. Biomass growth dependent on time for the different experimental setups is compared; the uptake of arsenic dependent upon the biomass concentration during time as well. The evidence from theses studies suggests a correlation between biomass concentration and arsenic uptake. In ongoing investigations the characterization of arsenic species is addressed to entirely prove the metabolism.
Prof. Dr.-techn. H. Frühwirth
Dr. B. Bottenbruch
F. Scharfen, M.Sc.
Dr. G. Wang
Cooperation partners:
Prof. Kerstin Leopold
University of Ulm, Institute of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Steffen Eckhard
WasserMüller Ingenieurbüro GmbH, Biberach
Stoffliche Nutzung von Algenbiomasse am Beispiel Biosorption von Arsen, H. Frühwirth, Netzwerk Algen - Neues aus Forschung und Industrie, BMVIT, Wien 2015
Removal of Arsenic from Contaminated Water by Microalgae, G. Wang, F. Scharfen, B. Bottenbruch, H. Frühwirth, Biobased Future, 2016
Metabolic uptake of arsenic by extremophile microalgae, F. Scharfen, G. Wang, B. Bottenbruch, H. Frühwirth, Processnet, Aachen 2016

[1] Smith A.H., Lingas E.O., and Rahman M. 2000. Contamination of drinking-water by arsenic in Bangladesh: A public health emergency. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 78: 1093-1103.