Characterization of chemical contaminants in wastewater to predict its role on natural transformation among microorganisms

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Project Description

One of the principal barriers towards safe water reuse is an effective wastewater treatment process. Most countries treat wastewater through a series of physical, biological and chemical processes, including a final disinfection step, to decrease the bacterial counts to permissible levels. The inactivation of pathogens is particularly important to protect public health and the environment. However, the use of chemical-based disinfectants can result in a wide diversity of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) which in turn alter the toxicological characteristics of treated wastewaters. In addition, wastewater contains a wide range of chemical contaminants that can also impose potential mutagenic effect on microorganisms. Our group has previously provided demonstrations on how disinfection byproducts (DBPs) can trigger mutagenicity and natural transformation events (which is the translocation and integration of foreign DNA that then allow the microorganisms to gain new functional traits). This project aims to perform an in-silico assessment on whether the other chemical contaminants present in wastewater would also play a role in natural transformation events.
Program - Environmental Science and Engineering
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Water Desalination and Reuse Center
Field of Study - Environmental Science/Chemistry

About the
Researcher

Peiying Hong

Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Engineering

Peiying Hong
Professor Hong’s research interests include molecular microbiology and microbial aspects in water and wastewater ecosystems. Her research aims to understand the roles and interactions of microorganisms in these ecosystems, and to utilize the insights to solve issues related to water quality and water reuse. Professor Hong’s research also looks at the biotic contaminants (e.g. antibiotic resistance genes, mobile genetic elements, pathogens) that are present in the natural and engineered environments.

Desired Project Deliverables

A database on the features associated with chemical contaminants and their roles in natural transformation or other modes of horizontal gene transfer

RECOMMENDED STUDENT ACADEMIC & RESEARCH BACKGROUND

Chemistry
Chemistry
Environmental Science
Environmental Science