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Open access

Martin Koller and Gerhart Braunegg

Abstract

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), the only group of “bioplastics” sensu stricto, are accumulated by various prokaryotes as intracellular “carbonosomes”. When exposed to exogenous stress or starvation, presence of these microbial polyoxoesters of hydroxyalkanoates assists microbes to survive.

“Bioplastics” such as PHA must be competitive with petrochemically manufactured plastics both in terms of material quality and manufacturing economics. Cost-effectiveness calculations clearly show that PHA production costs, in addition to bioreactor equipment and downstream technology, are mainly due to raw material costs. The reason for this is PHA production on an industrial scale currently relying on expensive, nutritionally relevant “1st-generation feedstocks”, such as like glucose, starch or edible oils. As a way out, carbon-rich industrial waste streams (“2nd-generation feedstocks”) can be used that are not in competition with the supply of food; this strategy not only reduces PHA production costs, but can also make a significant contribution to safeguarding food supplies in various disadvantaged parts of the world. This approach increases the economics of PHA production, improves the sustainability of the entire lifecycle of these materials, and makes them unassailable from an ethical perspective.

In this context, our EU-funded projects ANIMPOL and WHEYPOL, carried out by collaborative consortia of academic and industrial partners, successfully developed PHA production processes, which resort to waste streams amply available in Europe. As real 2nd-generation feedstocks”, waste lipids and crude glycerol from animal-processing and biodiesel industry, and surplus whey from dairy and cheese making industry were used in these processes. Cost estimations made by our project partners determine PHA production prices below 3 € (WHEYPOL) and even less than 2 € (ANIMPOL), respectively, per kg; these values already reach the benchmark of economic feasibility.

The presented studies clearly show that the use of selected high-carbon waste streams of (agro)industrial origin contributes significantly to the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of PHA biopolyester production on an industrial scale.

Open access
Open access

Abin Sebastian, Rima Kumari, Boda Ravi Kiran and Majeti Narasimha Vara Prasad

Abstract

Ultraviolet radiation (UV) altered plant metabolism. Hence Trigonella foenum-graecum L. (Fenugreek) exposed to UV-B radiation for studying the bioactive changes that may be useful in captive farming. UV-B treatment altered plant growth, and extent of alterations depended on the duration of radiation treatment. Photosynthetic pigments such as chlorophyll and carotenoids decreased after radiation exposure. But bioactive components such as anthocyanin, flavonoids, and phenolics increased after UV-B treatment. Phenylalanine lyase enzyme activity and peroxidase activity also increased with 4.0 hr UV-B exposure even though 8.0 hr exposure decreased the activity of these enzymes. Total lipid content of the plants increased after UV-B exposure. Changes in aromatic oil composition observed due to UV-B exposure, and the changes pointed shifting of plant metabolism towards the synthesis of short chain fatty acid contain lipids and non-enzymatic antioxidants.

Open access

Mihai Stefan Tirsu and Galina Nicolae Uzun

Abstract

The Republic of Moldova is dependent on energy imports in the proportion of 75 percent. This situation is also characteristic for many other countries. Under the circumstances, when a country lacks its own fossil energy sources, it needs to identify alternative solutions to reduce energy dependence and increase energy security. The Republic of Moldova is an agrarian country and has the possibility of growing biomass, and has many vegetal wastes, which could be used as bioenergy. Also, other renewable energy sources, such as wind and sun, are available in the territory and should be integrated into the energy circuit. The rapid development of bioenergy sources requires special programs, support schemes and other interventions by the authorities. The paper presents the solutions applied in the field of bioenergy by the decision-makers, the projects that have been carried out and the way of their implementation. It also presents the evolution of the situation in the bioenergy sector over the last 7 years and how dependence on energy imports has evolved as a result of the implementation of different mechanisms in this sector. Expected opportunities for further development of the sector and ways of accelerating the process of bioeconomy development are estimated. The solutions identified in the paper can be replicated in other countries, which are similar to the Republic of Moldova. On the other hand, each country has some targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Moldova has ambitious targets that provide for a 65% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. The development of the bioenergy sector will contribute to an easier realization of these targets.

Open access

Antonio Malvasi, Andrea Tinelli, Domenico Baldini, Rossana G. Iannitti and Bernard Fioretti

Abstract

It has been known that inositols function as insulin second messengers and mediate different insulin-dependent processes and are a valid natural, non-pharmaceutical alternative to contrast insulin-resistance as well as associated metabolic syndrome in women with Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS). Several studies also have shown positive effects of resveratrol in reducing glucose and lipid concentrations in patients. Recently, clinical evidence has proven that an D-chiro-inositol/resveratrol combination has a potential role to play in maintaining metabolic and endocrine health, however no large clinical trials have demonstrated the medical effectiveness of the combination, and the combined mode of action remains poorly discussed. Herein, we address the hypothesis of a synergistic mechanism adopted by D-chiro-inositol and resveratrol in reducing insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia and thus showing a greater therapeutic potential compared to treatment with inositol’s alone.

Open access

Balázs József Nagy, Magdolna Makó, István Erdélyi, Andrea Ramirez, Jonathan Moncada, Iris Vural Gursel, Ana Ruiz-Martínez, Aurora Seco, José Ferrer, Fabian Abiusi, Hans Reith, Lambertus A.M. van den Broek, Jordan Seira, Diana Garcia-Bernet, Jean-Philippe Steyer and Miklós Gyalai-Korpos

Abstract

Different species of microalgae are highly efficient in removing nutrients from wastewater streams and are able to grow using flue gas as a CO2 source. These features indicate that application of microalgae has a promising outlook in wastewater treatment. However, practical aspects and process of integration of algae cultivation into an existing wastewater treatment line have not been investigated. The Climate-KIC co-funded Microalgae Biorefinery 2.0 project developed and demonstrated this integration process through a case study. The purpose of this paper is to introduce this process by phases and protocols, as well as report on the challenges and bottlenecks identified in the case study. These standardized technical protocols detailed in the paper help to assess different aspects of integration including biological aspects such as strain selection, as well as economic and environmental impacts. This process is necessary to guide wastewater treatment plants through the integration of algae cultivation, as unfavourable parameters of the different wastewater related feedstock streams need specific attention and management. In order to obtain compelling designs, more emphasis needs to be put on the engineering aspects of integration. Well-designed integration can lead to operational cost saving and proper feedstock treatment enabling algae growth.

Open access

Fabrizio Bruschi, Barbara Castagna, Francesca Mori-Ubaldini, Barbara Pinto, Francesco Costa and Ferruccio Bonino

Abstract

The aims of this case-control study were to determine the prevalence of Anisakis-specific IgE in patients reporting chronic or acute gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and to investigate the correlation with raw fish ingestion habits. A group of patients undergoing gastric endoscopy and a control group of healty subjects answered a self-administered questionnaire on their food habits, presence of symptoms (both allergic and not allergic), and general life style. The presence of anti-Anisakis IgE has been evaluated using a serum immunoCAP assay. Our data show a low prevalence of IgE directed against Anisakis allergens in Italy in dyspeptic patients, despite the high consumption of poorly cooked fish. These findings does not correlate with the results of studies from other Mediterranean countries, such as Spain, for example. The general prevalence of Anisakis allergens sensitization in Italy could be further investigated through screenings in the allergic population, especially on those patients who claim to have developed a fish allergy and with history of raw fish consumption. Moreover, the attention should be moved on recent allergic reactions associated with fishing ingestion. This could in fact indicate a recent encounter with the parasite. Finally, we must underline that the evaluation of Anisakis-specific IgG would have probably shown a difference in terms of exposure between the two groups; thus, it might be useful to detect also this antibody class in future population-based studies.

Open access

Erel Lior, Tim Axelrod, Evgeni Eltzov, Ariel Kushmaro and Robert S. Marks

Abstract

The Lachish River has suffered from recurring pollution incidents for the past decade. On October 11th, 2017, another contamination in the river was sighted, as thousands of dead fish were found floating. Samples from the river were retrieved and tested through a whole cell bioluminescent bacterial bioreporter system as well as conventional analytical methods, and the results from both methods were analyzed and compared, even though initially these two collecting events were not coordinated. The information acquired from the whole cell reporter was consistent with that obtained from conventional methods. Both approaches indicated a large concentration of microorganisms as deduced from K802NR E. coli strain reaction and coliforms count. The high water conductivity measured in collected samples were closer downstream, and attributed to the diffusion of salts from the Mediterranean Sea which affected bacterial viability as seen from the decreased reaction of E. coli strains TV1061 and DPD2794. In addition, the bacterial indicators’ kinetic patterns have shown indication for the presence of a genotoxic substance from only one of the collection sites, which was tested positive for the herbicide Metazachlor, itself known to have genotoxic effects. The correlation between both approaches, along with the biosensor’s ability to assess biological influences, suggests that the whole cell bioluminescent bacterial bioreporter bioassay as an easy, simple and efficient approach for water toxicity monitoring.

Open access

Lali Kutateladze, Nino Zakariashvili, Izolda Khokhashvili, Maya Jobava, Tinatin Alexidze, Tamar Urushadze and Edisher Kvesitadze

Abstract

The analysis of microscopic fungi collection created at theDurmishidze Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology revealed 107 strains assimilating 2,4,6-TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene) belonging to the different fungal genera. The strains have been isolated from the polluted areas adjacent to the military grounds and industrial waste waters. It has been shown TNT is degraded most actively by strains belonging to the following genera: Trichoderma, Aspergillus, Mucor and Trichoderma. Optimal cultivation conditions for highly active strains -the destructors of TNT have been revealed. It has been established that the carbon skeleton of TNT being utilized by the mentioned strains undergoes biotransformation. The existence of radioactive intermediates of biotransformation, organic acids (70-90%) and amino acids (10-30%) have been detected in liquid culture. Radioactive label of 1-14C-TNT is mostly found in fumaric acid, which is known as one of the main products of benzene biotransformation and further conversion into succinic acid. Remediation level of TNT-contaminated red and black soils treated by the most active strains Aspergillus nigerN2-2 and Mucor sp. T1-1 have been studied under laboratory and field conditions. Cultivation of the above mentioned strains under laboratory conditions in sterile, black and red soils for 30 days at 30°C allowed decreasing the content of TNT in black soil to the residual, and in red soil - to 15%; cultivation of Aspergillus niger N2-2 decreased the amount of TNT in black soil to 11 and in red soil - to 21%. Under field conditions, TNT degradation level in contaminated soils by naturally existing micro flora during 100 days was equal to 40-50%, and in the case of additional introduction of both fungal strains, TNT-destructors reached 80%.

Open access

Munis Dundar, Kevan M.A. Gartland and Peter B. Gahan