Phytoplankton Cultures for Tannin Biodegradation

  • S. B. Silva
  • R. M. Pádua
  • F. A. R. Barbosa
  • M. A. N. Silva
  • F. R. Azevedo
  • Sergia Maria Starling MagalhãesEmail author


Tannins are special plant metabolites used in leather processing that act as pollutants. These substances are toxic to aquatic biota and can cause cell rupture. These harmful effects make the treatment of tannery wastewater difficult. Phytoplankton species are community components that are rarely considered in the biodegradation of organic compounds. However, in association with bacteria, these organisms can improve the biodegradation of pollutants by different mechanisms. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the potential of non-axenic cultures of Chlorella vulgaris containing Lactobacillus casei and Synechococcus sp. containing Rhizobium rosettiformans and Sphingomonas koreensis to biodegrade tannic acid (TA). Cultures in BG-11 medium containing TA (250 mg L−1) were incubated under a photoperiod or in the dark and monitored for 96 h. The cultures with added TA grew more than the control cultures under both the photoperiod and dark conditions. A reduction in the TA concentration and the TA metabolite gallic acid was observed under both conditions. Ellagic acid was identified and demonstrated resistance to biodegradation under the evaluated conditions, and neither of the other metabolites was detected. BG-11 culture medium is poor in organic material; therefore, microalgae and cyanobacteria contribute to bacterial metabolism. Under experimental conditions, phytoplankton species seem to contribute to the biodegradation of tannin residues, and in natural environments, they may aid in the bioremediation of sites contaminated by these pollutants.


Biodegradation Cyanobacteria Microalgae Heterotrophic bacteria Tannic acid Gallic acid 



The authors thank Professor Gecernir Colen for his suggestions and discussion during this study and the Chemistry Department of the Institute of Exact Sciences of the Federal University of Minas Gerais for conducting the chemical analysis.

Funding Information

This study was funded by the Minas Gerais State Agency for Research and Development (project number CBB-APQ-01491-11).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Pharmacy, Pharmacy SchoolFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Pharmaceutical Products, Pharmacy SchoolFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.Department of General Biology, Institute of Biological SciencesFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  4. 4.Department of ChemistryFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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