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  Section: General Biotechnology / Biotechnology & Environment
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Environmental Biotechnology


Bioremediation is the use of living microorganisms to degrade environmental pollutants or prevent pollution. It is a technology for removing pollutants from the environment, restoring contaminated sites and preventing future pollution. However, it has global, regional, and local application. The basis of bioremediation is the enormous natural capacity of microorganisms to degrade organic compounds. This capacity could be improved by applying the GMMs.

In Japan, academic, industrial and governmental research is tightly coordinated for global application of environmental biotechnology. Researchers are exploiting large scale application of bioremediation that can affect desert formation, global climate change and the life cycle of materials. Attempts are being made to develop microorganisms that can help reverse desert formation. This work is based on developing biopolymers that retain water and reverse desert formation. Alcaligens luteus is being used to produce 'superbioabsorbenf, a polysaccharide which is composed of glucose and glucuronic acid. These can absorb and hold more than thousand times of its own weight of water.

Using the informations from fundamental research bioremediation technology has been used to remove environmentally hazardous chemicals, accumulated in their cells or detoxify them into non-toxic forms. Several members of algae, fungi and bacteria are known to solubilize, transport and deposit the metals, and detoxify dyes and complex chemicals.

The toxic waste materials remain in vapor, liquid or solid phases, therefore, bioremediation technology varies accordingly whether the waste material involved is in its natural setting or is removed and transported into a fermenter (bioreactor). On the basis of removal and transportation of wastes for treatment, basically there are two methods: in situ bioremediation and ex situ bioremediation.





In situ bioremediation



Intrinsic bioremediation



Engineered in situ bioremediation


Ex situ bioremediation



Solid phase system (composting, composting process)



Slurry phase system (aerated laggons, low shear airlift reactor)



Factors affecting slurry phase bioremediation


Bioremediation of hydrocarbon



Use of mixture of bacteria



Use of genetically engineered bacterial strains 


Bioremediation of Industrial wastes



Bioremediation of dyes



Bioremediation of heavy metals



Bioremediation of coal waste through VAM fungi


Bioremediation of xenobiotics



Microbial degradation of xenobiotics



Gene manipulation of pesticide-degrading microorganisms

Utilization of sewage, and agro-wastes


Production of single cell protein


Biogas from sewage


Mushroom production on agro-wastes



Microbial leaching (bioleaching)   


Microorganisms used in leaching


Chemistry of leaching



Direct leaching



Indirect leaching


Leaching process (slope leaching heap leaching in situ leaching)


Examples of bioleaching



Copper leaching



Uranium leaching



Gold and silver leaching



Silica leaching

Hazards of environmental engineering


Survival of released GMMs in the environment



Adaptive mutagenesis in GMMs



Gene transfer from GMMs into other microorganisms



Gene transfer via conjugative transposons



Effect of environmental factors on gene transfer


Ecological impact of GMMs released into the environment



Growth inhibition of natural strains



Growth stimulation of indigenous strains



Replacement of natural strains


Monitoring of GEMs in the environment



Risk assessment of the GEMs released into the environment


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