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Biofiltration with cork and Moringa oleifera to remove Escherichia coli

A 10-month research stay at the MSMLab of the UPC, of the MSc student Nury Ginneth Infante González, Industrial Microbiologist and PhD candidate in Biotechnology and Bioengineering of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies CINVESTAV-IPN, Mexico was recently finished.

During her 10-month research stay at the MSMLab laboratory of the UNESCO Chair on Sustainability, Nury Gineth has been conducting the evaluation of a functionalized cork biofiltration system with a natural extract of M. oleifera seed for the removal of Escherichia coli, as a pathogenic microorganism indicating the quality of wastewater.

To confirm the efficiency of the treatment system, a molecular technique was initially standardized, real-time viability PCR with a specific gene (LacZ) present in E. coli, isolated from the wastewater of one of the City's Xochimilco channels from Mexico.

This molecular technique is characterized by being an innovative technology that allows the differentiation between living and dead microorganisms, based on the loss of integrity of the cell membrane in dead cells. The viability PCR system uses PMA (propidium monoazide), as a DNA intercalation agent that allows differentiation between live and dead microorganisms at the DNA level.

Likewise, the importance of this technique at the environmental level, allows the evaluation of the new technologies and treatments that will be applied in the restoration of aquatic ecosystems and soil, to improve the quality of horticultural products.

On the other hand, the technique allows predicting the interactions between microorganisms and treatment in less time and with greater specificity and sensitivity, compared to other classical microbiological techniques.

Additionally, the student gave a practical course to students from Denmark, Mexico and Colombia with the purpose of consolidating all this knowledge. This was achieved through a completely practical work, in a small group with some guests from the network of collaborators of the UNESCO Chair on Sustainability and members of the UPC Terrassa Campus.

The continuity of the molecular technique will be tested with the purpose of evaluating the water quality of the channels of the Chinampera Zone, where several bioremediation technologies are conducted, directed by Dr. Refugio Rodriguez Vazquez and his research group of the CINVESTAV.

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