An algal consortium was isolated from an integrated steelmaking site at TATA Steel Strip Products Ltd. in Port Talbot, UK, and its bioremediation capacity tested. Excellent "bioremediation" was observed when the mixed culture was "applied" to diluted effluent from an enhanced anaerobic digestion plant at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water at Port Talbot, UK. After 5 days of cultivation in a 600-L photobioreactor, 99% of the total nitrogen (initial level, 4500 μmol L-1) and total phosphorus (initial level, 690.4 μmol L-1) were removed from the waste stream. The consortium was deposited in the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP), an international depository authority for microalgal patents, as CCAP 293/1. This material has been successfully cryopreserved using a two-step cryopreservation protocol with dimethyl sulphoxide (5%v/v) used as a cryoprotectant. On recovery of samples after 3 months storage at -196 °C, the specific bioremediation activity of the revived consortium was tested. The capacity of the revived culture to bioremediate effluent was not significantly different (p < 0.05) from a non-cryopreserved control, with 99% of total nitrogen and phosphorus remediated by day 4. Although non-axenic algal cultures have previously been cryopreserved, this is the first report of the successful cryopreservation of mixed algal consortium, with validation of its ability to bioremediate after thawing comparing non-cryopreserved cultures with a revived post-thaw algal consortium. The study also highlights the need to ensure the long-term security and the requirement to validate the functionality of conserved inocula with biotechnological/bioremediation potential.
- Algal consortium