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Soil bioremediation approaches for petroleum hydrocarbon polluted environments

Eman Koshlaf Andrew S Ball

*Corresponding author: Andrew S Ball andy.ball@rmit.edu.au

microbiology2017,1,25doi:10.3934/microbiol.2017.1.25

Increasing industrialisation, continued population growth and heavy demand and reliance on petrochemical products have led to unprecedented economic growth and development. However, inevitably this dependence on fossil fuels has resulted in serious environmental issues over recent decades. The eco-toxicity and the potential health implications that petroleum hydrocarbons pose for both environmental and human health have led to increased interest in developing environmental biotechnology-based methodologies to detoxify environments impacted by petrogenic compounds. Different approaches have been applied for remediating polluted sites with petroleum derivatives. Bioremediation represents an environmentally sustainable and economical emerging technology for maximizing the metabolism of organic pollutants and minimizing the ecological effects of oil spills. Bioremediation relies on microbial metabolic activities in the presence of optimal ecological factors and necessary nutrients to transform organic pollutants such as petrogenic hydrocarbons. Although, biodegradation often takes longer than traditional remediation methods, the complete degradation of the contaminant is often accomplished. Hydrocarbon biodegradation in soil is determined by a number of environmental and biological factors varying from site to site such as the pH of the soil, temperature, oxygen availability and nutrient content, the growth and survival of hydrocarbon-degrading microbes and bioavailability of pollutants to microbial attack. In this review we have attempted to broaden the perspectives of scientists working in bioremediation. We focus on the most common bioremediation technologies currently used for soil remediation and the mechanisms underlying the degradation of petrogenic hydrocarbons by microorganisms.

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