Effect of environmental and nutritional conditions on the formation of single and mixed-species biofilms and their efficiency in cadmium removal

Alireza Fathollahi, Steve Coupe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)
    66 Downloads (Pure)


    Remediation of contaminated water and wastewater using biosorption methods has attracted significant attention in recent decades due to its efficiency, convenience and minimised environmental effects. Bacterial biosorbents are normally deployed as a non-living powder or suspension. Little is known about the mechanisms or rates of bacterial attachment to surfaces and effect of various conditions on the biofilm development, as well as efficiency of living biofilms in the removal of heavy metals. In the present study, the effect of environmental and nutritional conditions such as pH, temperature, concentrations of phosphate, glucose, amino acid, nitrate, calcium and magnesium, on planktonic and biofilm growth of single and mixed bacterial cultures, were measured. Actinomyces meyeri, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas fluorescens strains were evaluated to determine the optimum biofilm growth conditions. The Cd(II) biosorption efficiencies of the mixed-species biofilm developed in the optimum growth condition, were investigated and modelled using Langmuir, Freundlich and Dubnin Radushkevich models. The biofilm quantification techniques revealed that the optimum concentration of phosphate, glucose, amino acid, nitrate, calcium and magnesium for the biofilm development were 25, 10, 1, 1.5, 5 and 0.5 g L −1, respectively. Further increases in the nutrient concentrations resulted in less biofilm growth. The optimum pH for the biofilm growth was 7 and alkaline or acidic conditions caused significant negative effects on the bacterial attachment and development. The optimum temperatures for the bacterial attachment to the surface were between 25 and 35 °C. The maximum Cd(II) biosorption efficiency (99%) and capacity (18.19 mg g −1) of the mixed-species biofilm, occurred on day 35 (C i = 0.1 mg L −1) and 1 (C i = 20 mg L −1) of biofilm growth, respectively. Modelling of the biosorption data revealed that Cd(II) removal by the living biofilm was a physical process by a monolayer of biofilm. The results of present study suggested that environmental and nutritional conditions had a significant effect on bacterial biofilm formation and its efficiency in Cd(II) removal.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number131152
    Early online date9 Jun 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.


    This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant No 765057 , project name SAFERUP!


    • Actinomyces meyeri
    • Bacillus cereus
    • Biofilm
    • Biosorption
    • Cd(II) removal
    • Escherichia coli
    • Growth substrate
    • Pseudomonas fluorescens

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Engineering
    • Chemistry(all)
    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Pollution
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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