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BioMed Research International
Volume 2019, Article ID 9020178, 11 pages
Research Article

Detoxification Assays of Tunisian Tannery Wastewater under Nonsterile Conditions Using the Filamentous Fungus Aspergillus niger

1Laboratory of Environmental Bioprocesses, Centre of Biotechnology of Sfax, University of Sfax, PO Box 1177, 3018 Sfax, Tunisia
2Center for Sustainable Development, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha 2713, Qatar

Correspondence should be addressed to Mariem Ellouze; moc.liamg@14meiramezuolle

Received 4 January 2019; Revised 30 April 2019; Accepted 20 May 2019; Published 3 June 2019

Academic Editor: José L. Campos

Copyright © 2019 Raouia Boujelben et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The ability of Aspergillus niger strain to reduce organic and mineral pollution as well as the toxicity of two tannery wastewaters, the unhairing effluent (UE) and the final effluent (FE), taken from a local Tunisian tannery and under nonsterile conditions, was studied. Raw effluents show alkaline pH ≥11; thus experiments were carried out at initial pH values and at pH adjusted to 6. Characterization of effluents also revealed high salt levels (EC > 17 mS/cm) and high organic matter content (25 g/L for the UE and 7.2 g/L for the FE) but a low biodegradability since BOD5 did not exceed 2.5 and 1.25 g/L for the UE and the FE, respectively. The results of the biological treatment showed that A. niger was able not only to grow at high pH and salinity values, but also to reduce organic and mineral pollutant load. After treatment, the COD reduction for the UE reached 90% and 70% at pH=6 and at initial pH (12.13), respectively. For the FE, the decrease of COD values reached 75% at pH=6 and 64% at initial pH (11.64). Monitoring of mineral pollution levels showed a reduction in chromium (Cr) concentrations reaching 70% for the FE. This was reflected by an increase of the biomass of A. niger from 9.25 g/L (control) to 9.84 g/L for the FE. To confirm the efficiency of the biological treatment using A. niger, phytotoxicity (tomato seeds) and microtoxicity (Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis) tests were carried out. Results of this monitoring showed an important decrease in the toxicity levels for both effluents.