Bioremediation with fungal mycelia

This project aims at the removal of contaminants from water through bioremediation with fungal cultures. Specifically, the feasibility of a range of wood substrates will be tested. The project will use bioassays (Microtox) for testing degrees of contamination before and after treatment.

Phase 1: In the first phase of the project a bioassay will be performed with contaminated water (from tailing ponds or from other pollution sources). In extreme cases of pollution some dilution may be necessary.
Phase 2: Preparation of fungal inoculum using a combination of wood and grain based substrates. (This step may require about 3 weeks). Several different fungal strains will be used.
Phase 3: The third phase of the project involves the development and testing of floating devices with fungal inoculum. This phase will allow and even call for a substantial degree of creativity and experimentation by the student researcher. The floating device, to be tested in containers with water should both hold fungal inoculum and float on water ensuring that the inoculum with the fungal mycelium will have adequate immersion in water and at the same time allow access of sufficient oxygen from above. The ideal floating device will have a maximum amount of inoculum surface area exposed to polluted water and at the same time have sufficient oxygen supply for all metabolic activities. Floating devices filled with fungal inoculum could be mesh bags, wooden or plastic containers or any other materials that fulfill the requirements above.
Phase 4: Two or three of the most promising fungal floating devices will be used to treat a defined volume of the contaminated water. The number of devices per container as well as the fungal species will vary.
Phase 5: After a week of exposure treated water will be ‘harvested’ every three days and subjected to a bioassay.
The results of this pilot project in applied research may pave the way for some promising practical applications of fungal bioremediation and will certainly results in more follow-up research.

Faculty Supervisor:

Roland Treu


Maite Cenedesi






Athabasca University



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