Production of a non-cytotoxic bioflocculant by a bacterium utilizing a petroleum hydrocarbon source and its application in heavy metal removal
A bacterium isolated from the activated sludge of an oil refinery of Assam, India retained efficient bioflocculating activity through production of the bioflocculant when it was grown on a crude oil amended medium void of any other carbon source. The bioflocculating activity gained from the optimized medium broth was 86.2%, which could be enhanced up to 89.1% with the purified bioflocculant. During the course of the bioflocculant production, the bacterium utilized about 77% of the petroleum hydrocarbons after incubation for 168 h when the activity was found to be the highest. The bioflocculant was efficient in flocculating Ni2+, Zn2+, Cd2+, Cu2+ and Pb2+. The bioflocculant was characterized as a glycoprotein complex by biochemical tests, FT-IR, SEM-EDX and LC/MS analyses. The bioflocculant showed negligible cytotoxicity on testing with the L292 cell line indicating the tremendous possibility of its use in bioremediation.