Visible light photocatalytic bismuth oxide coatings are effective at suppressing aquatic cyanobacteria and degrading free-floating genomic DNA

Peter Kelly , James Redfern , Marina Ratova , Andrew P. Dean , James Pritchett , Matthieu Grao , Joanna Verran


Received April 08, 2020,Revised , Accepted November 03, 2020, Available online December 18, 2020

Volume 33,2021,Pages 128-136

Access to safe drinking water free from microbial pollution is an issue of global concern. The use of photocatalytic thin films in water treatment has focused on titanium dioxide, which requires UV-activation, proving a potential barrier to upscaling and implementation in the real world. Visible-light-activated photocatalytic thin films, such as bismuth oxide, have recently been shown to have antimicrobial properties. However, more understanding of the photocatalytic effect on the microbial population in water is required. Glass beads coated with bismuth oxide were incubated with either Microcystis aeruginosa, Anabaena sp. or free-floating genomic DNA. The presence of bismuth oxide-coated glass beads was able to rapidly stop a population of cyanobacteria from increasing. The coated beads were also able to degrade genomic DNA. Leachate from the beads showed no increase in toxicity against human liver cells. This data demonstrates the efficacy of bismuth oxide-coated glass beads for controlling potentially dangerous cyanobacterial populations, whilst potentially reducing the amount of free-floating genomic DNA (an essential issue in the face of antimicrobial resistance) – all of which should be essential considerations in emerging water treatment technologies.

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