Proteins causing membrane fouling in membrane bioreactors

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

In this study, the details of proteins causing membrane fouling in membrane bioreactors (MBRs) treating real municipal wastewater were investigated. Two separate pilot-scale MBRs were continuously operated under significantly different operating conditions; one MBR was a submerged type whereas the other was a side-stream type. The submerged and side-stream MBRs were operated for 20 and 10 days, respectively. At the end of continuous operation, the foulants were extracted from the fouled membranes. The proteins contained in the extracted foulants were enriched by using the combination of crude concentration with an ultrafiltration membrane and trichloroacetic acid precipitation, and then separated by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE). The N-terminal amino acid sequencing analysis of the proteins which formed intensive spots on the 2D-PAGE gels allowed us to partially identify one protein (OmpA family protein originated from genus Brevundimonas or Riemerella anatipestifer) from the foulant obtained from the submerged MBR, and two proteins (OprD and OprF originated from genus Pseudomonas) from that obtained from the side-stream MBR. Despite the significant difference in operating conditions of the two MBRs, all proteins identified in this study belong to β-barrel protein. These findings strongly suggest the importance of β-barrel proteins in developing membrane fouling in MBRs.

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