Phyllosphere bacteria: potential for degradation of indoor air pollutants and impact on the human immune response to air pollutants

Max Dekeukeleire
Onze blootstelling aan vervuilende stoffen wordt voor een groot deel bepaald door het binnenmilieu, welke 2 tot 5 keer meer vervuild kan zijn ten opzichte van de lucht gevonden in de buitenlucht. Deze masterthesis onderzocht in welke mate plant-geassocieerde bacteriën in staat zijn om typische binnenlucht polluenten, met name vluchtige organische stoffen, af te breken of om te vormen tot een minder of niet toxische vorm.

Luchtvervuiling, ook binnenshuis

 

Luchtvervuiling buitenshuis kennen we allemaal en hun gevolgen voor onze gezondheid weten we eveneens. Onze blootstelling aan vervuilende stoffen wordt echter voor een groot deel bepaald door het binnenmilieu, aangezien de bevolking gemiddeld 90% van hun tijd binnenshuis doorbrengt. De binnenlucht kan 2 tot 5 keer meer vervuild zijn ten opzichte van de lucht gevonden in steden door de combinatie van verschillende vervuilende factoren zoals het opstapelen van vervuiling van buitenlucht binnenshuis, verdampen van chemicaliën uit bouwmaterialen en meubels, reinigingsproducten, kachels, gasfornuis, enz. Daarbij zijn woningen vaak onvoldoende geventileerd. Dit komt duidelijk naar voren in de cijfers van de Wereldgezondheidsorganisatie waarin binnenshuispollutie verantwoordelijk is voor ongeveer 14 keer meer doden dan buitenluchtvervuiling in stedelijke gebieden. Tot op heden zijn er verschillende technologische oplossingen ontwikkeld voor het verminderen van deze verontreinigende stoffen in de binnenlucht. Deze luchtreinigers hebben echter hun nadelen zoals het genereren van eigen verontreinigende stoffen via energieverbruik, verlies van efficiëntie over tijd, en hoge productie-, aankoop- en onderhoudskosten. Als gevolg van deze nadelen krijgt de laatste jaren een meer kosteneffectief, duurzaam, natuurlijk en milieuvriendelijk alternatief steeds meer de aandacht: bioremediatie. Bij bioremediatie wordt er gebruik gemaakt van micro-organismen om milieuverontreinigingen biologisch af te breken of om te zetten in minder of niet-schadelijke moleculen.

Bladbacteriën inzetten tegen vervuiling

Mijn masterthesis focuste zich op een onderdeel van deze bioremediatie-technieken, namelijk fylloremediatie. Fylloremediatie maakt gebruik van micro-organismen - die de bovengrondse oppervlakken van planten koloniseren - in te zetten om milieuverontreinigende stoffen te bioremediëren in gebouwen en mogelijks ook de buitenlucht. De bovengrondse plantoppervlakten, ook wel de fyllosfeer genoemd, is een van de meest voorkomende microbiële habitats op aarde: de wereldwijde bacteriepopulatie in de fyllosfeer zou tot 10^26 bacteriën kunnen omvatten. Op het moment is er weinig gekend over het vermogen van deze blad-geassocieerde of fyllosfeer micro-organismen om pollutie te bioremediëren. Daarom was het doel van mijn masterthesis om te onderzoeken in welke mate de fyllosfeer-bacteriën in staat zijn om vluchtige organische stoffen (VOS), zoals benzeen, tolueen, ethylbenzeen, en xyleen (BTEX) te bioremediëren. VOS zijn typische binnenluchtpolluenten met nadelige gezondheidseffecten op korte en lange termijn. VOS kunnen afkomstig zijn van een scala van huishoudelijke materialen en producten waaronder wasmiddelen, verven, vernissen, lijmen, ontvetters, pesticiden en synthetische geuren.

In het project werden verschillende bacteriële stammen - geïsoleerd uit de fyllosfeer van klimopbladeren - blootgesteld aan een BTEX-mengsel in een luchtdichte doos die fungeerde als een soort bioreactor. De luchtvervuiling in de bioreactor werd vervolgens in real-time opgevolgd over een periode van 24 uur met behulp van een gas-chromatograaf. Na het testen van 17 verschillende bacteriële stammen gaf Isolaat F (schuilnaam vanwege patentredenen) een indicatie om tolueen, ethylbenzeen en xyleen af te breken.

Toepassingen en toekomstig onderzoek

In de studie gaf isolaat F een indicatie om TEX actief af te breken. Daarnaast is er een platform ontwikkeld om bacteriën te screenen op bioremediatie vermogen. Verder onderzoek is echter nog nodig om bladgebaseerde luchtreinigers te ontwikkelen. Het verrijken van de fyllosfeer gemeenschappen op kamerplanten door nuttige bioremediërende bacteriën zou bijvoorbeeld een belovende technologie zijn om binnenhuispollutie in werkplekken en in huizen te bestrijden. Voordat we hier zijn zullen we onder andere de geobserveerde bioremediatie vermogens moeten herbevestigen,  meer fyllosfeerbacterien verzamelen met bioremediërende eigenschappen, en bepalen hoe we deze bacteriën op de beste manier terug kunnen aanbrengen op planten. Vervolgens zullen verschillende bacterie-plantcombinaties kunnen worden getest om te onderzoeken welke combinaties het meest geschikt zijn voor gebruik in kantoren, woonkamers of klaslokalen. Als het voordeel van fyllosfeerbacteriën goed onderbouwd is, zou het gebruik van fyllosfeerbacteriën door gezondheidswerkers, stedenbouwkundigen, en architecten gepromoot kunnen worden om de luchtkwaliteit te verbeteren. Totdat deze nieuwe applicaties ontwikkeld zijn is het openen van ramen en deuren nog steeds de beste oplossing.

Misschien zitten er reeds bioremediërende bacterien op jouw kamerplanten?

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master in de biomedische wetenschappen: milieu en gezondheidswetenschappen
Publicatiejaar
2019
Promotor(en)
Prof. dr. Sarah Lebeer
Kernwoorden
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