May 2024

PhD Dissertation Defense

The Reuse of Treated Wastewater for Plant Irrigation: Exploring the Relationship Between Environmental Stressors, Water Disinfection, and Horizontal Gene Transfer via Natural Transformation

Bothayna Hussien Algashgari
08 May, 2024
02:00 PM – 03:00 PM

My doctoral research focuses on exploring the feasibility of repurposing treated water for crop irrigation in Saudi Arabia, utilizing existing water treatment techniques. To this end, I undertook a comprehensive investigation of the intricate relationship between stressors and natural transformation in Acinetobacter baylyi, both in laboratory settings and real-life scenarios. One of the key findings of my research is that predicting natural transformation outcomes is an exceptionally complex process, highlighting the pressing need to prioritize wastewater treatment methods that effectively reduce exDNA and competent bacteria host concentrations. Additionally, my study uncovered the concerning effects of exDNA buildup in the soil matrix on natural transformation events. Furthermore, the use of chlorinated effluent treated with an aerobic membrane reactor (the current method applied in Saudi Arabia) can contribute to natural transformation occurrences. Through my research, I identified several alternative solutions to address these challenges, including reducing exDNA concentrations, implementing UV disinfection, and adopting anaerobic membrane bioreactor technology. My research provides valuable insights into the complexities of natural transformation and the prospects for sustainable water management practices in the food production industry.

I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics and Biotechnology from the University of King Abdelaziz in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to join KAUST twice as a visiting student, where I delved into molecular studies of proteomics, with a specific focus on date fruit. After completing my Bachelor's degree, I continued my academic pursuits at KAUST as a Master's student, where my research was centered around molecular basic research and chromatin-associated proteins. For my doctoral studies, I joined the WDRC, Water Desalination, and Reuse Center, where I focused on more practical applications of my research, specifically delving into the relationship between environmental stressors, chlorinated effluent treated wastewater, and horizontal gene transfer (HGT), specifically natural transformation, in order to assess the feasibility of wastewater reuse for plant irrigation.

Event Quick Information

08 May, 2024
02:00 PM - 03:00 PM
Building 9 - Level 2 - Room 2325