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PhageSorption: Immobilization of phage virions for removal of mercury (II) from the aquatic environment by biosorption: proof of concept

Grant number: 23/12912-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2023
Effective date (End): November 30, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Microbiology - Applied Microbiology
Principal Investigator:Vitor Manuel Cardoso Figueiredo Balcão
Grantee:Larissa Ferreira dos Santos
Host Institution: Pró-Reitoria de Pós-Graduação, Pesquisa, Extensão e Inovação. Universidade de Sorocaba (UNISO). Sorocaba , SP, Brazil


Contamination of water with mercury is a serious public health problem, especially in places where Hg is used improperly/illegally and negligently, as is the case in the Amazon region, which has it riverside populations frequently invaded by illegal mining and which has exposed these populations to significant risks, of which heavy metal contamination such as mercury (Hg2+) has the potential to cause serious illness and harm the neurological, cardiovascular, immune and digestive systems, in addition to causing damage to the lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes. Due to the fact that the aquatic biome (underlining the importance of this biome for the economy and local population) is drastically affected by Hg2+ contamination, this ends up retaining the attention of those who are aware of the risks of contamination and its effects. Thus, it is necessary to develop bioremediation/biomitigation methods that are effective and less harmful to the environment, aiming to remove Hg2+ from water. Thus, when we think of new methodologies that may lead to the reduction of mercury in water, the use of protein entities is always an option and, for this reason, we can highlight the possibility of using bacteriophage particles in the removal of Hg2+ ions using their Zeta potential for this purpose. In this sense, the main objective of this research project is to test the possibility of mitigating the presence of mercury (II) ions in water through the immobilization of a bacteriophage already isolated and characterized in VBlab (EcoM021, myovirus of the Straboviridae family and Tequatrovirus genus (T4)), in a hydrogel type support, through which water contaminated with Hg2+ ions will be percolated. Thus, through the use of these hydrogels containing immobilized phage virions, through which water contaminated with Hg2+ ions will be percolated, the Hg2+ ions at the output will be quantified by UV-Vis spectrophotometry. Obtaining Hg2+ ions will result from the dissolution of the HgCl2 salt.With this research project, it is expected to obtain a hydrogel containing immobilized phages that has the capacity to retain mercury ions by biosorption (electrostatic attraction), thus enabling the removal of these ions from water.

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