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  Section: General Biotechnology / Biotechnology & Environment
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Environmental Biotechnology


Utilization of Sewage, and Agro-Wastes

Production of Single Cell Protein (SCP) on Sewage

Biogas from Sewage

Mushroom Production on Agro-wastes

Vermicomposting is the phenomenon of compost formation by earthworms. Obviously, earthworms play an important role in the cycling of plant nutrients, turnover of organic matter and maintenance of soil structure. They can consume 10-20 per cent of their own biomass per day. The most important effect of earthworms in agro-ecosystems is the increase in nutrient cycling, particularly nitrogen. They ingest organic matter with a relatively wide C:N ratio and convert it to earthworm tissue with a lower C:N ratio. Thus, they affect the physico-chemical properties of soil. In several countries including India significant work has been done. Scientists at Indian Institute of Sciences (Bangalore) have developed methods for frequent decomposition of coconut coir by using earthworms. Prof. B.R. Kaushal and coworkers at Kumaun University, Nainital have done significant work on earthworms, their food materials, food habit, organic matter turnover and established relationships between food consumption, changes in worm biomass, and casting activity of earthworms (Kaushal et al., 1994). They have also monitored the feeding and casting activity of Amynthas alexandri on corn, wheat leaves and mixed grasses in laboratory cultures. Casts were produced on surface and sides of the containers. Food consumption varied from 36 to 69 mg/g live worm/day. Cast production ranged from 4 to 6 mg/ g live worm/day (Kaushal et al., 1994). Some of the known and potential waste decomposer (such as Drawida nepalensis, etc.) earthworms may be introduced in such places where they are absent. Kaushal and Bisht (1992) studied growth and cocoon production of D. nepalensis on urine-free cow and horse manure. D. nepalensis is slow growing vermicomposting species and also shows parthenogenesis. Its life cycle is given in Fig. 21.8.

Life cycle of a vermicomposting earthwarm in cow manure (based on Kausal and Bisht, 1992).

Fig. 21.8. Life cycle of a vermicomposting earthwarm in cow manure (based on Kausal and Bisht, 1992).





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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