Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2013DE249B

Use of the White Rot Fungus as a Fungal Bioreactor to Remove E. coli from Aqueous Dairy Manure Wastewater

Institute: Delaware
Year Established: 2013 Start Date: 2013-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $1,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $3,000

Principal Investigators: Anastasia Chirnside, Anna Brady

Abstract: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nonpoint agricultural pollution is the leading source of water quality impacts on surveyed rivers and lakes, the second largest source of impairments to wetlands, and a major contributor to contamination of surveyed estuaries and ground water. Specifically, manure impacts more than just the water: it transports animal diseases and bacteria, like E. coli, to humans. Escherichia coli is a bacterium, of which certain strands can cause sickness, such as pneumonia and a life-threating condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Reducing the amount of agricultural waste that reaches waterways is necessary to prevent the spread of disease. Because E. coli is common to all animal wastes, finding a method to eliminate this bacterium from wastewater will affect all livestock production. The white rot fungus (WRF) Pleurotus ostreatus has been shown to be successful in eliminating E. coli from wastewater. Utilizing spent mushroom compost (SMC) from mushroom farms, which is inoculated with white rot fungus, is an economic way to increase the value and purpose of the SMC. By filtering the harmful components out of agricultural byproducts, the ecosystem and society will benefit: the waterways will be less polluted and less hyper-eutrophic and farm workers and citizens will have a lessened risk of contracting disease.