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Selenium Biotransformations in an Engineered Aquatic Ecosystem for Bioremediation of Agricultural Wastewater via Brine Shrimp Production

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2013, 00:00 authored by Radomir Schmidt, Prapakorn Tantoyotai, Sirine C. Fakra, Matthew A. Marcus, Soo In Yang, Ingrid J. Pickering, Gary S. Bañuelos, Krassimira R. Hristova, John L. Freeman
An engineered aquatic ecosystem was specifically designed to bioremediate selenium (Se), occurring as oxidized inorganic selenate from hypersalinized agricultural drainage water while producing brine shrimp enriched in organic Se and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for use in value added nutraceutical food supplements. Selenate was successfully bioremediated by microalgal metabolism into organic Se (seleno-amino acids) and partially removed via gaseous volatile Se formation. Furthermore, filter-feeding brine shrimp that accumulated this organic Se were removed by net harvest. Thriving in this engineered pond system, brine shrimp (Artemia franciscana Kellogg) and brine fly (Ephydridae sp.) have major ecological relevance as important food sources for large populations of waterfowl, breeding, and migratory shore birds. This aquatic ecosystem was an ideal model for study because it mimics trophic interactions in a Se polluted wetland. Inorganic selenate in drainage water was metabolized differently in microalgae, bacteria, and diatoms where it was accumulated and reduced into various inorganic forms (selenite, selenide, or elemental Se) or partially incorporated into organic Se mainly as selenomethionine. Brine shrimp and brine fly larva then bioaccumulated Se from ingesting aquatic microorganisms and further metabolized Se predominately into organic Se forms. Importantly, adult brine flies, which hatched from aquatic larva, bioaccumulated the highest Se concentrations of all organisms tested.