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Biofilms at work: Bio-, phyto- and rhizoremediation approaches for soils contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls

1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA;
2 Department of Biology, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD 21204, USA

Special Issues: Biofilm engineering - Harnessing the power of beneficial biofilms

Organohalide contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been released into the environment for decades due to anthropogenic activities, but are also naturally produced in small amounts through volcanic eruptions and geochemical processes. Although toxic to humans and other organisms, the natural production of these compounds has resulted in the evolution of naturally occurring organohalide-respiring bacteria that possess the enzymes necessary to degrade PCB compounds to non-toxic products. The efficiency of PCB degradation can be improved by facilitating the formation of organohalide-respiring biofilms. During biofilm colonization on a surface or interface, bacteria are encased in an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) or “slime,” which allows them to share nutrients and remain protected from environmental stresses. Effective bioremediation of PCBs involves facilitation of biofilm growth to promote cooperation between bacteria, which can be further enhanced by the presence of certain plant species. This review aims to give an overview of biofilm processes involved in the detoxification of PCBs including anaerobic and aerobic PCB degradation by bacteria as well as the ability of plants to stimulate microbial activity and degradation (rhizoremediation and phytoremediation).
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Copyright Info: © 2015, Birthe V. Kjellerup, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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