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Towards a novel bioreactor technology for treating fungicide-rich wastewaters from the fruit packaging industry

Paraschos Melidis, Dimitrios G. Karpouzas, and Spyridon Ntougias.

The fruit processing industry is an important economic sector worldwide, whereas a wide range of plant pathogens affects the shelf life of fruits, resulting in great economic losses. Post-harvest fungicides are often applied in the fruit processing industry to address post-harvest infections. However, various fungicides have been reported to exhibit toxicity to aquatic and terrestrial non-target organisms. Thus, effective technological solutions are needed to treat fungicide-containing wastewaters generated by the fruit packaging industry. Regarding biological methods, few approaches have been explored to deplete high-strength fungicide-based wastewaters derived from the post-harvest treatment of fruits. Despite the application of post-harvest fungicides for several decades, we are still missing the implementation of a full-scale biobased system to treat fungicide-rich wastewater generated by the fruit-packaging industry. On the other hand, fixed and fluidized bed bioreactors compared to suspended solids systems result in higher removal efficiencies. Based on the advantages of such bioreactor technology and the recent findings regarding the depuration of post-harvest fungicides in these biosystems, immobilized cell bioreactors appear to be a promising biological approach to treat persistent fungicides present in fruit packaging wastewater. However, bioreactors technology scaling up for the biotreatment of fungicide-rich wastewaters from the fruit packaging industry is challenging. Towards this direction, “Minotaur”, a 3-year research project financed by EU and Greek funds, is on the way to develop a full-scale bioreactor technology for treating fungicide-based wastewaters

Key words: fruit processing industry, post-harvest fungicides, imazalil, fludioxonil, immobilized cell bioreactor, microbial inocula

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