Potential for bioremediation of agro-industrial effluents with high loads of pesticides by selected fungi
Wastewaters from the fruit packaging industry contain a high pesticide load and require treatment before their environmental discharge. We provide first evidence for the potential bioremediation of these wastewaters. Three white rot fungi (WRF) (Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Trametes versicolor, Pleurotus ostreatus) and an Aspergillus niger strain were tested in straw extract medium (StEM) and soil extract medium (SEM) for degrading the pesticides thiabendazole (TBZ), imazalil (IMZ), thiophanate methyl (TM), ortho-phenylphenol (OPP), diphenylamine (DPA) and chlorpyrifos (CHL). Peroxidase (LiP, MnP) and laccase (Lac) activity was also determined to investigate their involvement in pesticide degradation. T. versicolor and P. ostreatus were the most efficient degraders and degraded all pesticides (10 mg l(-1)) except TBZ, with maximum efficiency in StEM. The phenolic pesticides OPP and DPA were rapidly degraded by these two fungi with a concurrent increase in MnP and Lac activity. In contrast, these enzymes were not associated with the degradation of CHL, IMZ and TM implying the involvement of other enzymes. T. versicolor degraded spillage-level pesticide concentrations (50 mg l(-1)) either fully (DPA, OPP) or partially (TBZ, IMZ). The fungus was also able to rapidly degrade a mixture of TM/DPA (50 mg l(-1)), whereas it failed to degrade IMZ and TBZ when supplied in a mixture with OPP. Overall, T. versicolor and P. ostreatus showed great potential for the bioremediation of wastewaters from the fruit packaging industry. However, degradation of TBZ should be also achieved before further scaling up.