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Introduction and Applications of Bioremediation

BY: Syed Amir Manzoor | Category: Environmental-Biotechnology | Submitted: 2011-11-20 06:02:17
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Article Summary: "The article focuses on the key concepts associated with bioremediation. Bioremediation comes from two words bios means life and remediate means to decipher an issue. The degradation of noxious waste from the environment using microorganisms is called as bioremediation. Microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, algae etc take part in .."

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Bioremediation comes from two words bios means life and remediate means to decipher an issue. The degradation of noxious waste from the environment using microorganisms is called as bioremediation. Microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, algae etc take part in bioremediation. There are many forms of bioremediation they are given as bioleaching, bio-venting, phyto-remediation, land-farming, composting, rhizo-filtration, bio-absorption, bio-augmentation, myco-remediation and bio-reacting. There may be natural or intrinsic bioremediation. Microorganisms that carry out bioremediation are called as bioremediators. Bio-absorption is the absorption of heavy metals like mercury, cadmium etc by algae is known as bio-absorption. Plants can't readily remediate these heavy metals sometimes. Natural plants and transgenic plants accrue these toxins in their basal parts hence known as phyto-remediation. These heavy metals are then incinerated, recycled and reused. Myco-remediation is the form of bio-remediation in which fungi remediate toxic pollutants from the environment, fungi are decomposers they cause decomposition of dead organic matters as they feed on dead organic matter they are saprotrophs. Lignin and cellulose are decomposed by acids and enzymes secreted by fungal hyphae. Micro-filtration also uses fungal mycelium for the removal of toxic wastes. Fungi are helpful in degradation of oil, aromatic compounds, hydrocarbons, petroleum products, pollutants of soil and water. According to the site of treatment there are two types of bioremediation in situ and ex situ; in situ treatment is on the site of production while ex situ treatment is away from the site of production.

Applications of bioremediation
• Bioremediation techniques are used to degrade highly toxic metals, chemicals, effluents and pollutants from the environment.
• Heavy metals from tanneries if not degraded by algae produce toxic oxides; these oxides produce lungs cancer, asthma, paralysis, brain damage, memory loss etc. If these heavy metals are accumulated in to water they cause the death of fishes and marine animals, algal blooms are produced when sunlight is blocked by these algal blooms hence killing the plants in the water. This makes the water unusable and unfit for drinking as the algal blooms give colour and bad odour to the water.
• Oil spills in water make the water unfit and cause the death of organisms; these oil spills can be cleaned using microorganisms by bioremediation. A large number of marine lives is lost due to these oil spills hence causing disturbance in food chains and in the ecology too.
• Bioremediation protects us from the use of chemicals and artificial mechanisms that are to be used for the cleaning processes, it has no side effects, pollution free environment is the result of bioremediation
• Processes like incineration requires a lot of energy where as bioremediation is energy independent process thus saving a large amount of energy as well as refraining us from global warming, which causes melting of glaciers and hence floods.
• Microorganisms are specially genetically modified for bioremediation e.g. bacteria like deinococcus radiodurans , it's helpful in absorption of mercury and aromatic hydrocarbons like toluene. Fertilizers, agrochemicals are given to them to increase their production capacity. They are very helpful for these purposes.
• Bioremediation can easily be observed by keeping a check on the redox potential, pH, temperature, oxygen content, residue from catabolic activity etc.
• Three steps are involved in remediation immobility, mobility and removal of obnoxious pollutants from the environment. If pollutants are not degraded soil is highly disturbed making it useless for the cultivation of crops the nutrient content of soil is greatly reduced but by bioremediation these microorganisms clean the soil and protecting it from further contamination thus making it useful for the plants to grow cell and adds nutrients to the soil.
• Bio-augmentation is the addition of microorganisms to the soil, where as bio-stimulation is the modification, addition, reduction or genetic engineering of the microbial colonies to degrade pollutants. In composting process orthodox earth worms are used, working in two ways first they accrue the metabolic activity and secondly when the soil pollutants are degraded they act as indicators of soil pollution like lichens do they act as pollution pointers
• Earthworms, protozoans, nematodes, mites, isopods, collembola, Enchytraeids are also used in bioremediation, for cleaning of soil, water, air, nutrient mineralization, nitrification, enzyme activities etc industrial effluents are also treated using them. They are also used in research purposes.

Every year huge amount of pollutants, toxicants, obnoxious compounds are produced as the result of human activities, these are making our environment polluted on alarming level and if not controlled yet they can cause huge losses like eutrophication, desertification, water pollution etc. So they have to be controlled and if controlled by artificial means they'll cost huge sum of money. So bioremediation is a cheap, efficient, side effects free process by which are environment can be cleaned up very efficiently leaving behind clean, pollution free environment.

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