ITB students study the Pleurotus ostreatus fungus to reduce the bad effects of mercury

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Leonardo Elber, Kresna Rahayu, Agust Leo Fanny Siregar. (Photo: ITB)

 Bandung – Small-Scale Gold Mining is the largest source of world mercury (Hg) pollution. The mercury content released by miners exceeds the World Health Organization (WHO) standards and has even been found in the food chain. Mercury is very dangerous for life because it is carcinogenic as well as poisonous. 

Responding to this concern, an ITB student team initiated a mycoremediation study using the Pleurotus ostreatus fungus to ameliorate the bad effects of mercury pollution. This research won a silver medal in the 2020 Student Creativity Week held by the National Achievement Center, Ministry of Education and Culture, in the Science Research category. 

Kresna Rahayu, Agust Leo Fanny Siregar and Leonardo Elber used the fungus Pleurotus ostreatus which is believed to have the property of a high bioaccumulation of heavy metals. One of the methods used is to mutating the fungal genes using UV light with the right exposure time, to obtain superior mutant strains, namely, survivors in a medium that is not sterile and more effective at absorbing mercury. 

“Mycoremediation is the process of restoring polluted land by utilizing enzymatic activity and other capabilities (bio-absorption and bioaccumulation) of a fungus. One of the uses of mycoremediation is for the bioaccumulation of mercury in the environment. Bioaccumulation, namely, the transfer of pollutant compounds from contaminated media into the body of the mycoremediation agent for further processing,” said Kresna, as quoted from Itb.ac.id, Friday (15/1/2021). 

The Pleurotus ostreatus fungus was developed into one of the mycoremediation agents because it has many advantages. This white fungus has a hood like an oyster shell and a gill-shaped structure on the underside of the hood. Pleurotus ostreatus can produce extracellular enzymes that can degrade pollutants, including 4 peroxidase, ligninase, cellulase, and pectinase enzymes. 

This fungus also has a high tolerance for mercury toxicity, can be cultivated on a large scale at a low cost, and is capable of high biosorption and bioaccumulation in its body. “The results of this study are in the form of narrative review articles and posters. The purpose of writing this article is to determine the optimal exposure time to UV radiation to produce superior mutant strains of the Pleurotus ostreatus fungus and to describe the potential utilization of the resulting mutant fungal strains,” said Kresna. 

In the future, they hope the results of this research can be used by a wider community. (est)