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Environmental bioremediation with microorganisms


Inenvironmental bioremediation with microorganismsis a reality ofnaturalistic engineering. Thebioremediationit is a technique for the management of pollutants dispersed in the environment (soil, water, atmosphere) which involves the use of biological organisms; that is precisely why we speak of"Bio" sanitation.

Thanks toenvironmental bioremediationa large number of contaminants can be treated, including petroleum, petroleum products, solvents and pesticides.

What is environmental bioremediation?

It is definedbioremediationevery process it employsmicroorganisms, fungi, plants or derived enzymesto eliminate environmental pollutants and restore a natural condition.

Examples of environmental bioremediation with microorganisms

A striking example ofenvironmental bioremediation with microorganismsit is the one used to mitigate the damage of oil spills: in case of spillage of crude oil in water, it is possible to add nitrates or sulphates to stimulate the growth of bacterial strains capable of decomposing hydrocarbon compounds (petroleum).

A very common practice is thephytodepurationwhich consists in the use of plant organisms (plants or other microorganisms such as, for example, cyanobacteria) to reclaim water basins, waste water, industrial discharges ... In this context we point out thevetiver system.

The principle on which theenvironmental bioremediation with microorganismsis very simple: take advantage of the cellular metabolism of some living organisms to eliminate a pollutant, very often microorganisms capable ofeat of the pollutant to be eliminated but it is not always that easy. Heavy metals such as cadmium, lead or mercury are not degraded by common microorganisms because these metals are incorporated into thefood chainand we speak of "bioaccumulation". Bioaccumulation does nothing but complicate the reclamation work (we can trivially see the case of mercury in fish: large fish contain higher levels of mercury precisely because they eat small fish which contain small quantities).

To eliminate heavy metals it is possible to use transgenic plants that concentrate these substances in the aerial parts that can be cut and disposed of. With thebioremediationwith transgenic plants, heavy metals can even be recovered and recycled for industrial purposes or discarded through the use of incinerators at controlled temperatures.

When it comes to environmental bioremediation with microorganisms, the use of genetic engineering forchangeorganisms and making them specifically suitable for the degradation of one or more pollutants could be a great potential. The bacteriumDeinococcus radiodurans(the most radiation resistant strain isolated to date), wasengineered(genetically modified) so that you candegradethetolueneand mercury ions, highly radioactive nuclear waste.

How are environmental bioremediation processes controlled?

The bioremediation process can be monitored in different ways in relation to the microorganism used. It is possible to monitor the process by measuring the redox potential (redox potential) in water or soil, measuring pH, temperature, oxygen content, measuring the concentration of degradation products (very common is measuring the levels of carbon dioxide).

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Video: Demonstration: Oil Spill Cleanup (January 2022).