As a matter of fact, biotechnological tools involved in the bioremediation process are diverse and dynamic in their nature. There is a wide range of such tools employed for specific purposes to achieve a clean and healthy environment free of all sort of pollutants and thus making life easier for the human being on the planet earth. One such very important and functionally efficient tool is actinomycetes. Technically defining this dynamic element used for bioremediation, actinomycetes are actually a form of bacteria which are utilised in this process. It has some very special features making it an effective and considerable tool for bioremediation. Non -motile, filamentous (having a filament or thread like structure) bacteria belonging from order Actinomycetales are known as actinomycetes. it is worth mentioning that for a very long period of time, probably for years, these have been considered by the biological scientists as a form of as fungi but later on, some advanced studies and research results advocated the fact that in reality these are bacteria and thier pathogenic action resembles that of fungi. They are anaerobic which means that do not need oxygen for the sake of respiration process. They cause many significant disorders including the disorders like actinomycosis. They are also used in bioremediation purposes. Bioremediation is the removal of toxic, noxious compounds by the action of microorganisms hence making the environment cleaner and better. They carry out biotransformation and biodegradation.
• Removal of pesticides by actinomycetes
Biodegradation and biotransformation of pesticides, an important phenomenon, is carried out by these actinomycetes, they belong to gram-positive bacterial group. They have unique chemical composition e.g. organochlorines, s-triazines, triazinones, carbamates, organophosphates, organophosphonates, acetanilides, and sulfonylureas that cause the removal of pesticides. This degradation is carried out by cluster of bacteria more efficiently than by a single isolated bacterium. Very diminutive information regarding the molecular structure of this organism is available. Alachlor (2-cloro-N-methoxymethyl-N-2, 6-diethylphenyl)-(acetamide) is herbicide, used for controlling the weeds in the crops; highly toxic and freely moving. Actinomycetes were isolated and this experiment of degradation of herbicide was repeated 50 times with different actinomycete every time. Future horizons are that actinomycetes will be used to develop herbicidal resistant crops.
• Reduction of chromium (VI) in soil
MC1 streptomyces obtained from sugar cane, found to be useful for the degradation of Cr (VI). They have reduction capability from 75% to 100%. Cr (VI) is very toxic as it's emitted from tanneries and produces chromium oxides which are very toxic to human health as they are carcinogenic. Cr (VI) is reduced to less toxic isotope and then it's reused. This reduction is done by actinomycetes in the soil.
• Petroleum degeneration
In vitro decomposition of petroleum is done by actinomycetes obtained from the soils ruined by the presence of petrochemicals. Actinomycetes use petroleum as a source of carbon by degrading it. Sterptomyces plicatus is the microorganism that causes the degradation of petrol for obtaining carbon as it is anaerobic bacterium, doesn't need oxygen for respiration. It has the ability to grow in contaminated soils. Petrol is widely used in our daily life and causes pollution as its burning produces toxic fumes.
• 2, 4, 6-Trinitrotoluene (TNT) transformation
TNT is an explosive and is highly inflammable and toxic. It can be degraded by actinomycetes in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. TNT is transformed in to its less toxic intermediates that further form polymers. Streptomyces diastaticus takes part in this transformation. As they have been isolated from soil contaminated with TNT and nitro-aromatics, they are found to be tolerant to such soils. Transformation is the process in which extremely toxic compounds are converted in to relatively less noxious compounds.
Actinomycetes have variety of applications in bioremediation. They are used in biotransformation, biodegradation and various other purposes. They cause degradation of herbicides, pesticides, chromium (VI), petrochemicals, nitro-aromatics, TNT etc. These are very toxic; most of them are carcinogenic, causing respiratory diseases, mental illness and many other problems. Actinomycetes are pathogenic they cause infestations such as actinomyces in which swelling is observed on infected persons face and rest body. But they have wide usages as compared to their number of disadvantages. Hence they are very important in the field of biotechnology.
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