The biosorption of particulates and metal ions by fungal mycelium
Particulate adsorption by Mucor flavus and Neurospora crassa is a physical property of the cell wall, independent of both cellular metabolism and the production of extracellular polymers. Initial attractive forces responsible for particulate adsorption by N. crassa are mainly electrostatic in nature and this mechanism probably holds for M. flavus also. The outer glucan layer of the cell wall of N. crassa, although able to adsorb particulates, was not as efficient as the underlying protein layer at particle adsorption. Young, growing mycelium generally adsorbs the , -, largest amount of particles, due to the continued production of adsorption sites and the entrapment of particulates by hyphae. Factors increasing adsorption include nutrient starvation of mycelium and incubation with low concentrations of magnesium ions. Relatively high concentrations of mercury and copper ions decrease adsorption perhaps due to the precipitation and adsorption of the corresponding metal sulphides on the mycelial surface thereby effectively physically interfering with further particulate adsorption. Optimum conditions for adsorption are a temperature of 250C and a slightly acid pH value. Also, small particles are more readily adsorbed than large particles. Mucor flavus can adsorb clays and this ability may be used to treat industrial effluents which contain large amounts of clay minerals. An acid pH and a temperature of 250C are optimum conditions for clay adsorption by the fungus. Low concentrations of montmorillonite and kaolinite increase biomass production by Aspergillus niger in submerged culture, due to the inhibition of pellet formation by the fungus. The clays cause A. niger to grow in a more filamentous form and presumably would affect other fungi in a similar way. The use of clays to control fungal morphology may be important in several industrial fermentations. Low concentrations of the fungicide thiram stimulated the growth of Aspergillus niger in the presence of montmorillonite. Immobilization of fungi by magnetic means is possible due to their ability to adsorb magnetite. This method could also be used to remove fungi from fermentation media as an alternative to filtration or centrifugation. Even though older hyphae of Penicillium chrysogenum are unable to adsorb magnetite, this fungus can still be magnetically immobilized if it is grown from a spore suspension in the presence of magnetite. Either the spores or young hyphae of this fungus adsorb magnetite, producing pellets with magnetic properties. Magnetite adsorption occurs optimally at a temperature of 250C and is constant over a wide range of pH values. Waste mycelium of A. niger from the surface fermentation method of citric acid production can be magnetically removed from solution after adsorbing magnetite. Dilute solutions of sodium hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate desorbed magnetite attached to mycelial surfaces. Silver is accumulated selectively by A. niger waste mycelium produced by the surface fermentation method of citric acid production. The process is rapid, maximum uptake occurring twenty minutes after initial exposure of the mycelium to a silver solution. Silver accumulation by the mycelium is relatively insensitive to changes in pH and temperature, a slight decrease in uptake only occurring at a temperature of 800C. Dilute solutions of H2S04 and HNO3 desorb silver from the mycelial surface. However, this process is relatively inefficient and more effective desorbents need to be found to make the silver accumulation process economically viable.