Resistance of bioparticles formed of phosphate-accumulating bacteria and zeolite to harsh environmental conditions

Extreme environmental conditions, such as pH fluctuations, high concentrations of toxicants or grazing of protozoa, can potentially be found in wastewater treatment systems. This study was carried out to provide specific evidence on how ‘bioparticles’ can resist these conditions. The term ‘bioparticle’ is used to describe a particle comprising natural zeolitized tuff with a developed biofilm of the phosphate-accumulating bacterial species, Acinetobacter junii, on the surface. The bacteria in the biofilm were protected from the negative influence of extremely low pH, high concentrations of benzalkonium-chloride and grazing by Paramecium caudatum and Euplotes affinis, even under conditions that caused complete eradication of planktonic bacteria. During an incubation of 24 h, the biofilms were maintained and bacteria detached from the bioparticles, thus bioaugmenting the wastewater. The bioparticles provided a safe environment for the survival of bacteria in harsh environmental conditions and could be used for successful bioaugmentation in wastewater treatment plants.