Author(s): Lao UL, Chen A, Matsumoto MR, Mulchandani A, Chen W
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Abstract Cadmium contamination of soil is a major concern in the biosphere. Beyond the suite of available physico-chemical treatment methods, green and more efficient technologies are desired to reduce cadmium and other heavy metal contaminants to acceptable levels. Elastin-like polypeptides (ELP) composed of a polyhistidine domain (ELPH12) can be used as an environmentally benign chelating agent for ex situ soil washing. However, ELPH12 is relatively non-selective. A biopolymer with metal-binding domains that have stronger affinity, capacity, and selectivity would have distinct advantages. The aim of this work is to investigate the use of a new generation of ELP biopolymer, ELPEC20, containing synthetic phytochelatin (EC) as the metal-binding domain for ex situ soil washing. ELPEC20 was shown to bind cadmium more effectively and selectively than ELPH12. The binding constant of ELPEC20 is an order of magnitude higher and the binding capacity is fivefold higher than ELPH12. In contrast to ELPH12, no decrease in cadmium binding was observed in the presence of other competing metal ions. The improved selectivity and binding capacity provided by ELPEC20 were directly reflected in the enhanced cadmium extraction efficiency from contaminated soil. In batch washing studies up to 62\% of the bound cadmium was removed by ELPEC20 while less than 12\% was removed by ELPH12. Cadmium was removed not only from the exchangeable fraction but also the oxidizable fraction. The high-affinity binding sites of ELPEC20 also results in very rapid extraction with complete removal achieved within 1 h, suggesting that ELPEC20 could be used as part of a rapid (short retention time) technology with minimum possibility for the biodegradation of biopolymers. (c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This article was published in Biotechnol Bioeng
and referenced in Agrotechnology