• Bacterial poly-gamma-Glutamic Acid (y-PGA) - a promising biosorbent of heavy metals

      Ogunleye, Adetoro (2015-06)
      Poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) is a biopolymer made up of repeating units of L-glutamic acid, D-glutamic acid or both. γ-PGA is water soluble, non-toxic and biodegradable, and can be used safely in a variety of applications that are increasing rapidly. This study investigated the production of HMW γ-PGA by five Bacillus species (B. licheniformis 1525, B. licheniformis NCTC 6816, B. licheniformis ATCC 9945a, B. licheniformis ATCC 9945a and B. subtilis (natto) ATCC 15245) in GS, C and E media for the removal of heavy metals in wastewaters. The highest γ-PGA yields of 11.69 g/l and 11.59 g/l were produced by Bacillus subtilis (natto) ATCC 15245 in GS medium and medium C respectively. Upon characterization, γ- PGAs with different properties (crystallinity, acid/salt form and molecular weights ranging from 2.56 × 105 Da to 1.65 × 106 Da) were produced. The water soluble, non-toxic, HMW (Mw 1.65 × 106 Da) γ-PGA produced by B. subtilis (natto) ATCC 15245 in medium C was investigated as a sorbent for the removal of heavy metal ions including Cu2+, Zn2+, Ni2+, Cd2+ and Ag+. The results showed that the removal of metals by γ-PGA was more dependent on the concentration of γ-PGA than the solution pH. The highest metal ions removal of 93.50%, 88.13%, 90.21%, 90.56% and 86.34% by HMW γ-PGA were obtained for Cu2+, Zn2+, Ni2+, Cd2+ and Ag+ respectively. The presence of interfering metal ions could hinder the adsorption of individual metal ions by γ-PGA. The affinities of heavy metal ions for γ-PGA followed the order: Cu2+ > Zn2+ > Ni2+ > Cd2+. The effect of molecular weight of γ-PGA on metal removal was also investigated, and it was found that metal ion adsorption capacity of γ-PGA strongly depended on its molecular weight. The maximum amount (93.50%) of Cu2+ sorbed by HMW γ-PGA was higher compared to that (59.48%) sorbed by LMW γ-PGA. Isotherm models showed that the Redlich-Peterson best described the metal adsorption capacity of γ-PGA. It was also found that a multisite adsorption mechanism occurred via the complexation of metal ions with the free α-carboxyl and possibly the amide functional groups in γ-PGA.