September 3, 2020

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Shooka Khoramfar Coauthored a Paper on Microbial Activity and Biodegradation of Benzene and o-Xylene in the Journal Chemosphere

Shooka Khoramfar, Ph.D. (Texas) coauthored a paper entitled "Effect of surfactants at natural and acidic pH on microbial activity and biodegradation of mixture of benzene and o-xylene" that was published in the journal Chemosphere in Volume 260 on July 2, 2020.

Shooka was the lead author, and her coauthors were Kim D. Jones, Jalil Ghobadi, and Parisa Taheri.

Shooka Khoramfar is a Senior Staff Engineer based in Texas with a focus on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emission control and wastewater treatment. Other research includes sustainable approaches for the control of hazardous air pollutants especially from petrochemical industries; efficient, innovative and cost-effective methods for the treatment of water and wastewater; and environmental biotechnologies for air and water treatment.

Chemosphere is an international journal designed for the publication of original communications and review articles. As a multidisciplinary journal, Chemosphere offers broad and impactful dissemination of investigations related to all aspects of environmental science and engineering.


The aim of this work was to explore the effect of lowering pH and application of surfactants (Brij 35, Tween 20 and Saponin) in increasing bioavailability and biodegradability of benzene and o-xylene (BX) as two hydrophobic VOCs in a liquid mixture. All experiments were conducted at neutral and acidic pH to evaluate the effect of population change from bacteria to fungi on the BX biodegradation. The experiments demonstrated that acclimating wastewater inoculum at pH 4 increased the fungal to bacterial ratio. An increase of 11% for benzene and 22% for o-xylene was observed at pH 4 unamended-culture as compared to pH 7. Brij 35 was chosen as the optimum surfactant which was favorable for enhancing the bioavailability of BX at pH 4. Fitting the experimental data to pseudo first-order biodegradation kinetics model showed the BX were biodegraded faster in the presence of optimum surfactant at pH 7 than pH 4.

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