Spirulina as a bioremediation agent : interaction with metals and involvement of carbonic anhydrase

Payne, Rosemary Anne (2000) Spirulina as a bioremediation agent : interaction with metals and involvement of carbonic anhydrase. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Heavy metal contamination from mining and other industrial operations is becoming an increasing problem with regards to the depleting water resources in South Africa. This study involved the investigation of the use of an algal biomass as a possible alternative to the traditional chemical means of removing these metals. When the toxic effects of metals were investigated, Spirulina was found to have a threshold level of about 30 μM for copper, zinc and lead. Copper and zinc appeared to have a direct effect on the photosynthetic pathway, thereby causing a rapid decline in cell growth. Lead on the other hand seemed to affect surface properties and hence took longer to cause deterioration in growth. Although relatively low concentrations of metal may have a toxic effect on the cyanobacterium, Spirulina may have potential as a precipitation agent. The role of Spirulina in the precipitation of heavy metals appears to be through its ability to maintain a high pH in the surrounding medium, possibly through the enzyme carbonic anhydrase. Subsequent studies therefore focused on the assay and isolation of this enzyme. Two different radiotracer assays, in which carbonic anhydrase converts radiolabelled bicarbonate to carbon dioxide, were investigated, but were found to have several problems. Results were insensitive and could not be reproduced. The standard Wilbur-Anderson method subsequently investigated also proved to be insensitive with a tremendous degree of variability. Although not quantitative, SDS-PAGE proved to be the most reliable method of detection, and was therefore used in subsequent procedures. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii was the subject of initial enzyme isolation studies as these procedures are well documented. Although the published protocols proved unsuccessful, affinity chromatography of a membrane stock solution from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii yielded two relatively pure protein bands. These bands were presumed to represent two subunits of carbonic anhydrase, although Western blot analysis would be required to confirm their identity. Purification of carbonic anhydrase from Spirulina, however, proved unsuccessful and results obtained were very inconclusive. Hence, further analysis of Spirulina is required. The possibility of cloning CA from a genomic library was also considered, but suitable primers could not be designed from the aligned sequences.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Spirulina, Bioremediation, Carbonic anhydrase.
Subjects:Q Science > QR Microbiology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Biochemistry, Microbiology & Biotechnology
ID Code:2293
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:01 Dec 2011 08:20
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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