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2 publications for this project

Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Producing and Characterizing Bacillus Subtilis Biosurfactants with PotentiallyLower Environmental Impact for Salt Water Applications

EPA Grant Number: R835181
Title: Producing and Characterizing Bacillus Subtilis Biosurfactants with PotentiallyLower Environmental Impact for Salt Water Applications
Investigators: Lamsal, Buddhi , Green, Christopher C. , LeBlanc, Brian D. , Nyman, John A. , Somasundaranm, P.
Institution: Iowa State University , Columbia University in the City of New York , Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2015
Project Amount: $500,000
RFA: Environmental Impact and Mitigation of Oil Spills (2011)
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration



The overall objective of this proposal is to understand structure-function relationships in biodispersant(s), that will be produced using a genetically modified strain of Bacillus subtilis with regards to its surface-active property (dispersion), and toxicity to coastal marine ecology. The central hypothesis is that structural differences in isoforms of the biodispersant(s) influence its properties; such structural differences can be brought about by variations in fermentation energy sources or genetic modifications.


Four agricultural feedstocks with differing composition (soybean hull, soybean fiber, sugarcane bagasse, and crude glycerol), fermentation conditions, and two microbial strains will be evaluated for biosurfactant yield and isoforms differences. Recovery and purification of biosurfactant and isoforms will be done employing ‘green’ chemistry principles. The carbons chain length and branching, the size and electrostatic nature of the head group will be evaluated biosurfactants/isoforms, and develop effectively formulations for oil spill cleanup. The possible toxicity effect(s) of formulations towards marine/coastal environment will be evaluated using juvenile Gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis). The community outreach activities will illustrate the relative toxicity of crude oil, a synthetic dispersant, a common detergent, and dispersed crude oils with them to marine life. The Louisiana communities of Cocodrie, Grand Isle, Delacroix, and Belle Chase are targeted during boat launches and fishing rodeos. A mobile demonstration unit combining digital video of laboratory experiments and aquaria containing various shrimps will illustrate the relative toxicity of dispersants. Social media will also be use to increase the reach of this information.

Expected Results:

We expect to discern the structure-function relationship of a biosurfactant and its isoforms and their relative toxicity. This will result in formulation(s) of biosurfactants that are more surface-active, thus effective towards oil spill cleanup, but less toxic to the environment. The outreach activities will result in awareness and discussion within coastal communities regarding the fate and environmental effects of crude and dispersed oils. The published manuscripts will disseminate results to scientific community and public. We will also have trained graduate and undergraduate students in the process. The results/ outcomes of the project address the second research objective of the solicitation by developing effective dispersants/agents with reduced environmental impact. The outreach efforts disseminate research results and educate them about the fate and environmental effects of crude and dispersed oils. This will enable communities to better understand the impact of oil spills.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

biosurfactants, biodispersants, toxicity, oil spill, fermentation,

Progress and Final Reports:
2012 Progress Report

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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