This study assessed the bioflocculant (named MBF-W7) production potential of a bacterial isolate obtained from Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The 16S ribosomal deoxyribonucleic acids gene sequence analysis showed 98% sequence similarity to Bacillus licheniformis strain W7. Optimum culture conditions for MBF-W7 production include 5% (v/v) inoculum size, maltose and NH4NO3 as carbon and nitrogen sources of choice, medium pH of 6 as the initial pH of the growth medium. Under these optimal conditions, maximum flocculating activity of 94.9% was attained after 72 h of cultivation. Chemical composition analyses showed that the purified MBF-W7 was a glycoprotein which was predominantly composed of polysaccharides 73.7% (w/w) and protein 6.2% (w/w). Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy revealed the presence of hydroxyl, carboxyl and amino groups as the main functional groups identified in the bioflocculant molecules. Thermogravimetric analyses showed the thermal decomposition profile of MBF-W7. Scanning electron microscopy imaging revealed that bridging played an important role in flocculation. MBF-W7 exhibited excellent flocculating activity for kaolin clay suspension at 0.2 mg/ml over a wide pH range of 3-11; with the maximal flocculation rate of 85.8% observed at pH 3 in the presence of Mn(2+). It maintained and retained high flocculating activity of over 70% after heating at 100°C for 60 min. MBF-W7 showed good turbidity removal potential (86.9%) and chemical oxygen demand reduction efficiency (75.3%) in Tyume River. The high flocculating rate of MBF-W7 makes it an attractive candidate to replace chemical flocculants utilized in water treatment.
Keywords: Bacillus sp; MBF-W7; Marine environment; Tyume River; flocculating activity.