Potential and Application of Diatoms for Industry-Specific Wastewater Treatment

  • Archana Tiwari
  • Thomas Kiran Marella


Increased production of industrial wastewaters is an inevitable part of the present developing world, but majority of these waters are highly toxic to not only humans but to other biota, if they are released as such into ponds, streams, rivers, and oceans. Although it is obligatory to remove certain nutrient and other chemicals from industrial effluents before their release, this practice is overlooked by many industries especially in developing countries. This practice can be attributed to nonavailability of low-cost eco-friendly alternatives to the present chemical-based technologies. The diatom algae possess enormous potential in removal of pollutants like organic chemical toxins and heavy metal pollutants and rather than N and P from predominantly industrial wastewaters. The industrial wastewater is characterized by the low concentration of nitrogen and phosphorous, poor light penetration in colored effluents, and elevated concentrations of metals, which are not favorable for algal growth rates. So it is paramount to select right kind of algae to treat industrial wastewaters. Diatoms are unique class of algae with tremendous diversity and are significantly different in cellular and metabolic potential from other algae. Diatoms are responsible for about 20% of the total photosynthetic CO2 fixation. Diatom algae are pioneers in controlling and biomonitoring of organic pollutants, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, PCBs, pesticides, etc. in aquatic ecosystems. Heavy metal resistance was shown in several diatoms like Cyclotella cryptica, Skeletonema costatum, Cylindrotheca fusiformis, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, and Thalassiosira pseudonana. Although diatoms are extensively studied for their role as bioindicators of water pollution, their application in phycoremediation of polluted water bodies has just started. This chapter reviews the current research on the potential advantages and lacuna pertinent to the utilization of diatoms for sustainable approach of industrial wastewaters remediation.


Algae Biomonitoring Diatoms Industrial wastewaters Phycoremediation 



The research was funded by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, BT/PR15650/AAQ/3/815/2016.


  1. Adey WH, Hackney L (1989) The composition and production of tropical marine algal turf in laboratory and field experiments. In: Adey W (ed) The biology, ecology and mariculture of Mithrax spinosissimus utilizing cultured algal turfs. Mariculture Institute, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  2. Amano Y, Takahashi K, Machida M (2011) Competition between the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa and the diatom Cyclotella sp. under nitrogen-limited condition caused by dilution in eutrophic lake. J Appl Phycol 24(4):965–971Google Scholar
  3. Ambler JW, Frost BW (1974) The feeding behavior of a predatory planktonic copepod, Torlanus discaudatus. Limnol Oceanogr 19(3):446–451Google Scholar
  4. Archer D (2006) Biological fluxes in the ocean. Oceans Marine Geochem 6:275Google Scholar
  5. Bailleul B, Berne N, Murik O, Petroutsos D, Prihoda J, Tanaka A, Villanova V, Bligny R, Flori S, Falconet D (2015) Energetic coupling between plastids and mitochondria drives CO2 assimilation in diatoms. Nature 524(7565):366Google Scholar
  6. Basu AK (1975) Characteristics of distillery wastewater. J Water Pollut Control Fed 47:2184–2190Google Scholar
  7. Bilanovic D, Andargatchew A, Kroeger T, Shelef G (2009) Freshwater and marine microalgae sequestering of CO2 at different C and N concentrations response surface methodology analysis. Energy Convers Manag 50(2):262–267Google Scholar
  8. Brennan L, Owende P (2010) Biofuels from microalgae — A review of technologies for production, processing, and extractions of biofuels and co-products. Renew Sust Energy Rev 14(2):557–577Google Scholar
  9. Brzezinski MA, Pride CJ, Franck VM, Sigman DM, Sarmiento JL, Matsumoto K, Gruber N, Rau GH, Coale KH (2002) A switch from Si (OH) 4 to NO3− depletion in the glacial Southern Ocean. Geophys Res Lett 29(12)Google Scholar
  10. Buesseler KO (1998) The decoupling of production and particulate export in the surface ocean. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 12(2):297–310Google Scholar
  11. Christenson L, Sims R (2011) Production and harvesting of microalgae for wastewater treatment, biofuels, and bioproducts. Biotechnol Adv 29:686–702Google Scholar
  12. Craggs RJ, Tanner CC, Sukias JP, Davies-Colley RJ (2003) Dairy farm wastewater treatment by an advanced pond system. Water Sci Technol 48:291–297Google Scholar
  13. de Godos I, Vargas VA, Blanco S, González MC, Soto R, García-Encina PA, Becares E, Muoz R (2010) A comparative evaluation of microalgae for the degradation of piggery wastewater under photosynthetic oxygenation. Bioresour Technol 101(14):5150–5158Google Scholar
  14. Dosdat A, Servais F, Metailler R, Huelvan C, Desbruyhres E (1996) Comparison of nitrogenous losses in five teleost fish species. Aquaculture 141:107–127Google Scholar
  15. Dugdale RC, Wilkerson FP (1988) Nutrient sources and primary production in the Eastern Mediterranean. Oceanol Acta 9:179–184. Special IssueGoogle Scholar
  16. Egge J, Aksnes D (1992) Silicate as regulating nutrient in phytoplankton competition. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 83(2):281–289Google Scholar
  17. Elbaum R, Melamed-Bessudo C, Tuross N, Levy AA, Weiner S (2009) New methods to isolate organic materials from silicified phytoliths reveal fragmented glycoproteins but no DNA. Quat Int 193(1–2):11–19Google Scholar
  18. Falciatore A, Bowler C (2002) Revealing the molecular secrets of marine diatoms. Annu Rev Plant Biol 53(1):109–130Google Scholar
  19. Falkowski P, Raven J (2007) Photosynthesis and primary production in nature. In: Aquatic photosynthesis, pp 319–363 Princeton University Press ISBN:9780691115511Google Scholar
  20. Fazal T, Mushtaq A, Rehman F, Ullah Khan A, Rashid N, Farooq W, Rehman MSU, Xu J (2018) Bioremediation of textile wastewater and successive biodiesel production using microalgae. Renew Sust Energ Rev 82:3107–3126Google Scholar
  21. Furnas MJ (1990) In situ growth rates of marine phytoplankton: approaches to measurement, community and species growth rates. J Plankton Res 12(6):1117–1151Google Scholar
  22. Grobbelaar JU (2009) Factors governing algal growth in photobioreactors: the open versus closed debate. J Appl Phycol 21(5):489Google Scholar
  23. Halsey KH, Jones BM (2015) Phytoplankton strategies for photosynthetic energy allocation. Annu Rev Mar Sci 7:265–297Google Scholar
  24. Hamm CE, Merkel R, Springer O, Jurkojc P, Maier C, Prechtel K, Smetacek V (2003) Architecture and material properties of diatom shells provide effective mechanical protection. Nature 421(6925):841Google Scholar
  25. Hena S, Fatimah S, Tabassum S (2015) Cultivation of algae consortium in a dairy farm wastewater for biodiesel production. Water Resour Industry 10:1–14Google Scholar
  26. Hong Y-W, Yuan D-X, Lin Q-M, Yang T-L (2008) Accumulation and biodegradation of phenanthrene and fluoranthene by the algae enriched from a mangrove aquatic ecosystem. Mar Pollut Bull 56(8):1400–1405Google Scholar
  27. Hsieh C-H, Wu W-T (2009) Cultivation of microalgae for oil production with a cultivation strategy of urea limitation. Bioresour Technol 100(17):3921–3926Google Scholar
  28. Hu Q, Sommerfeld M, Jarvis E, Ghirardi M, Posewitz M, Seibert M, Darzins A (2008) Microalgal triacylglycerols as feedstocks for biofuel production: perspectives and advances. Plant J 54:621–639Google Scholar
  29. Hulburt EM (1990) Description of phytoplankton and nutrient in spring in the western North Atlantic Ocean. J Plankton Res 12(1):1–28Google Scholar
  30. Huntley M (1995) Microalgae as a source of feeds in commercial aquaculture. Sustainable Aquaculture ’95. Pacon International, Hawaii: 193–204Google Scholar
  31. Kilham SS, Theriot EC, Fritz SC (1996) Linking planktonic diatoms and climate change in the large lakes of the Yellowstone ecosystem using resource theory. Limnol Oceanogr 41(5):1052–1062Google Scholar
  32. Kroth P (2007) Molecular biology and the biotechnological potential of diatoms. In: Transgenic microalgae as green cell factories. Springer, pp 23–33 New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  33. Kuppusamy P et al (2017) Potential pharmaceutical and biomedical applications of Diatoms microalgae - An overview. Indian J Geo Mar Sci 46(04):663–667Google Scholar
  34. Lefebvre S, Hussenot J, Brossard N (1996) Water treatment of land-based fish farm effluents by outdoor culture of marine diatoms. J Appl Phycol 8:193–200Google Scholar
  35. Li X-l, Marella TK, Tao L, Peng L, Song C-f, Dai L-l, Tiwari A, Li G (2017a) A novel growth method for diatom algae in aquaculture wastewater for natural food development and nutrient removal. Water Sci Technol 75:2777. Scholar
  36. Li X-l, Thomas KM, Tao L, Li R, Tiwari A, Li G (2017b) An Orthogonal test design for optimization of growth conditions in three fresh water diatom species. Phycol Res 65:177. Scholar
  37. Libessart N, Maddelein M-L, Koornhuyse N, Decq A, Delrue B, Mouille G, D’Hulst C, Ball S (1995) Storage, photosynthesis, and growth: the conditional nature of mutations affecting starch synthesis and structure in Chlamydomonas. Plant Cell 7 (8):1117–1127Google Scholar
  38. Litchman E, Klausmeier CA (2001) Competition of phytoplankton under fluctuating light. Am Nat 157(2):170–187Google Scholar
  39. Litchman E, Klausmeier C, Miller J, Schofield O, Falkowski P (2006) Multi-nutrient, multi-group model of present and future oceanic phytoplankton communities. Biogeosci Discuss 3(3):607–663Google Scholar
  40. Lynn SG, Price DJ, Birge WJ, Kilham SS (2007) Effect of nutrient availability on the uptake of PCB congener 2, 2, 6, 6-tetrachlorobiphenyl by a diatom (Stephanodiscus minutulus) and transfer to a zooplankton (Daphnia pulicaria). Aquat Toxicol 83(1):24–32Google Scholar
  41. Mata TM, Melo AC, Simões M, Caetano NS (2012) Parametric study of a brewery effluent treatment by microalgae Scenedesmus obliquus. Bioresour Technol 107:151–158Google Scholar
  42. McGinn PJ et al (2011) Integration of microalgae cultivation with industrial waste remediation for biofuel and bioenergy production: opportunities and limitations. Phtosynth Res 109(1–3):231–247Google Scholar
  43. Milligan AJ, Morel FM (2002) A proton buffering role for silica in diatoms. Science 297(5588):1848–1850Google Scholar
  44. Mulbry W, Wilkie AC (2001) Growth of benthic freshwater algae on dairy manures. J Appl Phycol 13:301–306Google Scholar
  45. Mulbry W, Westhead EK, Pizarro C, Sikora L (2005) Recycling of manure nutrients: use of algal biomass from dairy manure treatment as a slow release fertilizer. Bioresour Technol 96:451–458Google Scholar
  46. Orefice I, Chandrasekaran R, Smerilli A, Corato F, Caruso T, Casillo A, Corsaro MM, Dal Piaz F, Ruban AV, Brunet C (2016) Light-induced changes in the photosynthetic physiology and biochemistry in the diatom Skeletonema marinoi. Algal Res 17:1–13Google Scholar
  47. Oswald WJ, Golueke CG (1960) Biological transformation of solar energy. In: Adv Appl Microbiol, vol 2. Elsevier, pp 223–262Google Scholar
  48. Racki G, Cordey F (2000) Radiolarian palaeoecology and radiolarites: is the present the key to the past? Earth Sci Rev 52(1–3):83–120Google Scholar
  49. Raven JA (1983) The transport and function of silicon in plants. Biol Rev 58(2):179–207Google Scholar
  50. Rico-Villa B, Woerther P, Minganta C, Lepiver D, Pouvreau S, Hamon M, Robert R (2008) A flow-through rearing system for ecophysiological studies of Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas larvae. Aquaculture 282:54–60Google Scholar
  51. Ryther JH (1969) Photosynthesis and fish production in the sea. Science 166(3901):72–76Google Scholar
  52. Sakshaug E, Andresen K, Kiefer DA (1989) A steady state description of growth and light absorption in the marine planktonic diatom Skeletonema costatum. Limnol Oceanogr 34(1):198–205Google Scholar
  53. Sen B, Alp MT, Sonmez F, Kocer MAT, Canpolat O (2013) Chapter 14: Relationship of algae to water pollution and waste water treatment. In: Elshorbagy W, Chowdhury RK (eds) Water treatment. Intech Open, pp 335–353Google Scholar
  54. Smetacek V (1999) Diatoms and the ocean carbon cycle. Protist 150(1):25–32Google Scholar
  55. Smetacek V, von Bodungen B, Knoppers B, Peinert R, Pollehne F, Stegmann P, Zeitzschel B (1984) Seasonal stages characterizing the annual cycle of an inshore pelagic system. Rapports et Proces-Verbaux des Reunions Conseil International pour l’Exploration de la Mer 183:126–135Google Scholar
  56. Street-Perrott FA, Barker PA (2008) Biogenic silica: a neglected component of the coupled global continental biogeochemical cycles of carbon and silicon. Earth Surf Process Landf 33(9):1436–1457Google Scholar
  57. Suh IS, Lee C-G (2003) Photobioreactor engineering: design and performance. Biotechnol Bioprocess Eng 8(6):313Google Scholar
  58. Tan XB, Lam MK, Uemura Y, Lim JW, Wong CY, Lee KT (2018) Cultivation of microalgae for biodiesel production: A review on upstream and downstream processing. Chin J Chem Eng 26(1):17–30Google Scholar
  59. Thomas WH, Dodson AN, Reid FM (1978) Diatom productivity compared to other algae in natural marine phytoplankton assemblages. J Phycol 14(3):250–253Google Scholar
  60. Thomas KM, Tiwari A, Bhaskar MV (2015) A novel solution to grow diatom algae in large natural water bodies and its impact on CO capture and nutrient removal. J Algal Biomass Utln 6(2):22–27Google Scholar
  61. Thomas KM, Bhaskar MV, Tiwari A (2016) Phycoremediation of eutrophic lakes using diatom algae. In: Lake sciences and climate change. InTechOpenGoogle Scholar
  62. Thomas KM, Reddy Parine N, Tiwari A (2018) Potential of diatom consortium developed by Nutrient enrichment for Biodiesel production and simultaneous nutrient removal from waste water. Saudi J Biol Sci.
  63. Tiwari A (2016) Algal application in horticulture: novel approaches to wards sustainable agriculture. Ann Hortic 9(2):117–120. Scholar
  64. Tiwari A, Pandey A (2014) Toxic cyanobacterial blooms and molecular detection of hepatotoxin- microcystin. J Algal Biomass Util 5(2):33–42Google Scholar
  65. Tiwari A, Thomas K (2016) Value added products from microalgae. In: Mendez-Vilas A (ed) Microbes in the spotlight: recent progress in the understanding of beneficial and harmful microorganisms. Brown Walker Press. ISBN 9781627346122Google Scholar
  66. Tiwari A, Thomas K (2018) In: Nageswara-Rao M (ed) Chapter 12: Biofuels from microalgae, Advances in biofuels and bioenergy, IntechOpen, pp 239–249Google Scholar
  67. Tozzi S, Schofield O, Falkowski P (2004) Historical climate change and ocean turbulence as selective agents for two key phytoplankton functional groups. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 274:123–132Google Scholar
  68. Traguer P, Pondaven P (2000) Global change: silica control of carbon dioxide. Nature 406(6794):358Google Scholar
  69. Trivedy RK, Nakate SS (2000) Treatment of diluted distillery waste by constructed wetlands. Ind. J Environ Prot 20:749–753Google Scholar
  70. Valderrama LT, Del Campo CM, Rodriguez CM, Bashan LE, Bashan Y (2002) Treatment of recalcitrant wastewater from ethanol and citric acid using the microalga Chlorella vulgaris and the macrophyte Lemna minuscula. Water Res 36:4185–4192Google Scholar
  71. Valiente Moro C, Bricheux G, Portelli C, Bohatier J (2012) Comparative effects of the herbicides chlortoluron and mesotrione on freshwater microalgae. Environ Toxicol Chem 31(4):778–786Google Scholar
  72. Wang B, Li Y, Wu N, Lan CQ (2008) CO2 bio-mitigation using microalgae. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 79(5):707–718Google Scholar
  73. Xin L, Hong-ying H, Ke G, Ying-xue S (2010) Effects of different nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations on the growth, nutrient uptake, and lipid accumulation of a freshwater microalga Scenedesmus sp. Bioresour Technol 101(14):5494–5500Google Scholar
  74. Yamamoto T, Goto I, Kawaguchi O, Minagawa K, Ariyoshi E, Matsuda O (2008) Phytoremediation of shallow organically enriched marine sediments using benthic microalgae. Mar Pollut Bull 57(1–5):108–115Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Archana Tiwari
    • 1
  • Thomas Kiran Marella
    • 2
  1. 1.Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Amity UniversityNoidaIndia
  2. 2.International Crops Research Institute for Semi -arid Tropics (ICRISAT)HyderabadIndia

Personalised recommendations