Scientists Discover Bacteria That Purifies Contaminated Water by Eating Heavy Metal

·2-min read

In a recent research led by scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology at Banaras Hindu University (IIT-BHU), a new bacteria has been discovered which is capable of separating toxic metal from water, making it safe for human consumption. The study showcased how a new bacterial strain from a contaminated site can remove toxic hexavalent chromium Cr (VI) from water. Hexavalent chromium is a heavy metal ion that could cause several health complications in humans, including different types of cancers, kidney and liver malfunctioning and infertility.

Researchers isolated the bacteria from the wastewater collected from Baliya nala in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh, where coal mining units discharge their effluents after treatment. The bacterial isolate discovered by the study has been named as Microbacterium paraoxydans strain VSVM IIT (BHU). The study led by Dr Vishal Mishra and his PhD student Veer Singhmentioned that the new bacterial strain is capable of absorbing large concentrations of hexavalent chromium. The bacteria is described as “very effective” for the elimination of hexavalent chromium from waste water when compared to other conventional methods of water treatment. Scientists also found that the bacterial strain showed fast growth rate in the Cr (VI) containing aqueous medium and is easily separated from the aqueous medium after the water treatment process.

After the discovery of the bacteria, researchers tested its hexavalent chromium removal capacity in industrial and synthetic wastewater and the results were satisfactory. They also claimed to have tested the hexavalent chromium removal mechanism in the bacterial cells. It is being said that if this strain of bacteria is deployed in the water treatment process, the need for an extra separation process is effectively eliminated. Mishra also mentioned in a statement that the research showed how several heavy metal tolerance mechanisms get activated in bacterial cells when they are grown in hexavalent chromium containing growth medium.

With this discovery, cost-effective water treatment methods including that of hexavalent chromium can be made possible. Since the bacteria is easy to cultivate and can serve the purpose of water treatment, it can certainly be deployed in daily use at treatment plants.

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