Research Highlight

Fungal biomass mops up toxic chromium

doi:10.1038/nindia.2017.119 Published online 13 September 2017

The biomass of a newly isolated fungus has shown promising results in effectively removing chromium from industrial effluents, making it a new candidate as a toxic metals adsorbent1.

Researchers, primarily from the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB) in Kolkata, found the maximum adsorption capacity of the fungal biomass in lab experiments to be around 100.69 mg per gram.

Hexavalent chromium, the toxic waste mostly released from the tannery industry in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal states of India, is a major source of pollution. This toxic form of chromium is known to induce neurotoxicity, genotoxicity, carcinogenicity and immunotoxicity. Conventional methods used to remove the toxin have not proved efficient because of the high operational costs and risk of secondary pollutants.

The scientists used heat dried biomass of the newly isolated fungus Arthrinium malaysianum and studied its capability for adsorption of hexavalent chromium. They found that the biomass reduced the toxic form of chromium into non-toxic trivalent chromium and mopped it up from industrial effluents.

The scientists say that the fungal biomass may also be used to remove other toxic chemicals such as arsenic and lead.


1. Majumdar, R. et al. Depletion of Cr(VI) from aqueous solution by heat dried biomass of a newly isolated fungus Arthrinium malaysianum: A mechanistic approach. Sci. Rep.7 (2017) doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-10160-0