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Early Detection of Biofouling on Water Purification Membranes by Ambient Ionization Mass Spectrometry Imaging
, Jakka Ravindran Swathy, Srimany Amitava,
Published in American Chemical Society (ACS)
PMID: 29211965
Volume: 90
Issue: 1
Pages: 988 - 997

By direct analysis of water purification membranes using ambient ionization mass spectrometry, an attempt has been made to understand the molecular signatures of bacterial fouling. Membrane based purification methods are used extensively in water treatment, and a major challenge for them is biofouling. The buildup of microbes and their extracellular polymeric matrix clog the purification membranes and reduce their efficiency. To understand the early stages of bacterial fouling on water purification membranes, we have used desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (DESI MS), where ion formation occurs in ambient conditions and the ionization event is surface sensitive. Biosurfactants at the air–water interface generated by microorganisms as a result of quorum sensing, influence the water–membrane interface and are important for the bacterial attachment. We show that these biosurfactants produced by bacteria can be indicator molecular species signifying initiation of biofilms on membrane surfaces, demonstrated by specific DESI MS signatures. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the best studied models for biofilm formation, this process is mediated by rhamnolipids forewarning bacterial fouling. Species dependent variation of such molecules can be used for the precise identification of the microorganisms, as revealed by studies on P. aeroginosa (ATCC 25619). The production of biosurfactants is tightly regulated at the transcriptional level by the quorum-sensing (QS) response. Thus, secretion of these extracellular molecules across the membrane surface allows rapid screening of the biofilm community. We show that, the ambient ionization mass spectrometry can detect certain toxic heavy metals present in water, using surfactant–metal complexes as analytes. We believe that such studies conducted on membranes in various input water streams will help design suitable membrane processes specific to the input streams.

About the journal
JournalData powered by TypesetAnalytical Chemistry
PublisherData powered by TypesetAmerican Chemical Society (ACS)
Open AccessNo