Effects and applications of sub-lethal ultrasound, electroporation and UV radiations in bioprocessing
Excess biomass accumulation in reactor biodegradation processes is undesirable: it increases the disposal cost and upsets the operation of biological reactors if not properly controlled. In this study, we investigated the feasibility of using ultraviolet (UV) light irradiation to reduce biomass accumulation and increase the specific biodegradation activity. UV irradiation has been widely used to introduce DNA damage in bacteria. Here we apply this technology to the biodegradation of organophosphates by recombinant Escherichia coli strains that contain a recA mutation and a cloned organophosphate hydrolase gene. We show that the recA negative strains after UV irradiation reduce the growth rate but increase the specific organophosphate hydrolase activity. This increase in specific enzyme activity is not owing to continued protein synthesis from the plasmid after the damage of chromosomal DNA by UV irradiation. Rather, it is likely to be caused by an increase in membrane permeability to the substrate. Kinetic analysis suggests that the membrane transport of paraoxon is the rate-limiting step in its biodegradation.