How a Type of Mushroom Breaks Down a Toxic Chemical

Greg Howard
29th April, 2024

How a Type of Mushroom Breaks Down a Toxic Chemical

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers in Beijing found that white rot fungi can break down the toxic chemical TCE
  • The fungus Trametes versicolor removed 81.10% of TCE in seven days
  • The process is affected by pH and chromium levels, but not much by salinity
Trichloroethylene, commonly known as TCE, is a chemical used in industrial applications that has become a widespread environmental contaminant. Its presence in soil and groundwater is of great concern due to its potential toxicity to humans and the environment. While various methods exist to tackle this pollutant, innovative and eco-friendly solutions are continually sought. Recent research from the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture has shed light on a promising biological approach to address this issue[1]. The study focuses on the use of white rot fungi, a group of organisms with a track record for breaking down tough pollutants, to degrade TCE. These fungi have enzymes that can decompose complex compounds, which makes them potential candidates for bioremediation – the process of using organisms to neutralize or remove contamination from the environment. The study explores the ability of four different white rot fungi to remove TCE from a liquid medium. Specifically, Trametes versicolor, Pseudotrametes gibbosa, Pycnoporus sanguines, and Pleurotus ostreatus were evaluated for their TCE-degrading capabilities. Of the four, T. versicolor stood out, achieving an impressive 81.10% degradation rate of TCE in just seven days. Cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are present in these fungi, play a crucial role in the degradation process. These enzymes are known to metabolize various organic substances, and in the case of T. versicolor, they are induced by the presence of TCE, leading to its breakdown. However, the study also highlights that environmental factors can influence the degradation efficiency. High pH levels and the presence of chromium (Cr(VI)) were found to have negative impacts, while varying salinity levels showed minimal effect. The findings of this study build upon previous research that has demonstrated the potential of white rot fungi in environmental cleanup efforts. For instance, a study on manganese peroxidase (MnP) produced by a white rot fungus showed that when immobilized on nanoclay, the enzyme's stability and efficiency in degrading polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil were enhanced[2]. Similarly, white rot fungi have been previously recognized for their ability to remove micropollutants from wastewater, albeit with some limitations that researchers have sought to overcome[3]. Moreover, the use of persulfate oxidation has been studied as a method for treating TCE-contaminated groundwater[4]. While effective, this chemical approach can disrupt indigenous microorganisms. In contrast, bioremediation using white rot fungi could offer a more environmentally harmonious solution, as these organisms can naturally coexist in the ecosystem. Lastly, the degradation and detoxification of neonicotinoid pesticides by another white rot fungus, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, have shown the versatility of these fungi in dealing with a variety of pollutants[5]. This supports the idea that white rot fungi have a broad potential for application in bioremediation strategies. The study from Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture not only confirms the efficacy of white rot fungi in degrading TCE but also provides insights into the environmental conditions that optimize this process. This research could pave the way for developing practical applications of white rot fungi in the remediation of TCE-contaminated sites. The ability to harness the natural degrading power of these fungi could offer a sustainable and less disruptive alternative to chemical treatments, marking a significant step forward in the field of environmental restoration.



Main Study

1) Biodegradation of Trichloroethylene by Trametes versicolor and its Physiological Response to Contaminant Stress.

Published 27th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by free and nanoclay-immobilized manganese peroxidase from Anthracophyllum discolor.

3) Can white-rot fungi be a real wastewater treatment alternative for organic micropollutants removal? A review.

4) Remediation of trichloroethene (TCE)-contaminated groundwater by persulfate oxidation: a field-scale study.

5) Biodegradation and detoxification of neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam by white-rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙