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Bioremediation of Hazardous Pollutants Using Fungi

V. Daphne Vivienne Gnanas,G.Roseline Jebapriya, J. Joel Gnanadoss

Published in:   Vol. 2 Issue 2 Date of Publication:   December 2013
Page(s):   93-96 Publisher:   Integrated Intelligent Research (IIR)
DOI:   10.20894/IJCOA. SAI : 2013SCIA316F0980

Use of chemicals in industrial processes, agricultural practices, nuclear experiments and various areas of our daily lives result in the release of potential toxic chemicals into the environment either on purpose or by accident. Chemicals that are known to pollute the environment include heavy metals, drugs, hydrocarbons, halogenated solvents, endocrine disrupting agents and agricultural chemicals. After their release, these pollutants are transported through the soil, atmosphere and water sources polluting them, thus posing a serious problem for survival of mankind. In the past, traditional method of disposing hazardous pollutants was by digging a hole and filling it with waste material but this method of waste disposal was difficult to continue due to lack of new places to dump. Many physical and chemical based technologies for waste disposal like high-temperature incineration and chemical decomposition methods have evolved in the years. Though these techniques were very effective at reducing a wide range of contaminants, at the same time they had several drawbacks like being complex in nature, uneconomical, and were not easily accepted by the public. Thus focus was shifted towards using modern day bioremediation process as a suitable alternative. Bioremediation is a microorganism mediated transformation or degradation of contaminants into nonhazardous or less-hazardous substances. In this process the contaminant or pollutant is used as a nutrient or energy source by the microorganism and the enzymes secreted by the microorganisms attack the pollutants and convert them to less hazardous products. Among the various microorganisms, fungi possess the biochemical and ecological capacity to degrade environmental organic chemicals either by chemical modification or by influencing chemical bioavailability. Ability of fungi to form extended mycelial networks, the low specificity of their enzymes and their ability of using pollutants as a growth substrate make fungi well suited for bioremediation processes. In contrast to bacteria, fungi are able to extend the location of their biomass through hyphal growth in search of growth substrates. A bioremediation process to be effective, manipulation of environmental parameters to allow microbial growth and degradation to proceed at a faster rate are required. By integrating proper utilization of natural or modified fungal capabilities with appropriate engineering designs to provide suitable growth environment, bioremediation using fungi can be successful in treating hazardous pollutants.