The area of polluted soil and water is expanding day by day due to rapid increase in world population. About 100 million people are added to the world population each year. Therefore, more and more industries, food, health care, medicines, vehicles, etc. are required to meet the demand of people. This is possible by involving biotechnology. However, it is probable that the modern biotechnology based on the sophisticated art of genetic engineering could solve all these problems.
The environmental biotechnology employs the application of genetic engineering to improve the efficiency and cost which are central to the future widespread exploitation of microorganisms to reduce the environmental burden of toxic substances. It is hoped that in future the application of microorganisms coupled with genetic engineering techniques will make a major contribution to improve the quality of our environment. However, is there risk associated with release of genetically engineered microorganisms into the environment!
Uses of microorganisms in environmental clean up with special reference to bioremediation types, processes and methods with several examples (e.g.
hydrocarbons, heavy metals, dyes, xenobiotics, etc), utilization of sewage and agro-wastes, and the benefits and hazards associated with release of GMMs for our clean environment have been discussed in this section. The benefits expected from the release of GMMs into the environment are summarized in Table 21.1.
Table 21.1. Benefits from release of genetically modified microorganisms into the environment:
- Protection of environment
- Bioremediation of polluted environment
- Control of global environmental process
- Reversal of land desertification
- Reversal of green house effect
- Increasing efficiency of plant nutrition
- Pest control (safe biopesticides)
- Protection of plants from climatic stress
- Protection of plants from tumor formation and disease
- Food Industry
- Microorganisms producing enzymes for food industry
- Microorganisms with improved efficiency of fermentation
- Improved microorganisms for milk industry
- Health care - Microorganisms as live attenuated vaccines