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The term bioremediation has been introduced to describe the process of using biological agents to remove toxic waste
from environment. Because of the adaptability of microbes and other biological systems, these can be used to degrade or
remediate environmental hazards. Natural organisms, either indigenous or extraneous (introduced), are the prime agents used
for bioremediation. The organisms that are utilized vary, depending on the chemical nature of the polluting agents, and are
to be selected carefully as they only survive within a limited range of chemical contaminants. The first patent for a biological
remediation agent was registered in 1974, being a strain of Pseudomonas putida that was able to degrade petroleum. Examples
of aerobic bacteria recognized for their degradative abilities are Pseudomonas, Alcaligenes, Sphingomonas, Rhodococcus, and
Mycobacterium. These microbes have often been reported to degrade pesticides and hydrocarbons, both alkanes and polyaromatic
compounds. Many of these bacteria use the contaminant as the sole source of carbon and energy. Anaerobic bacteria are not as
frequently used as aerobic bacteria. There is an increasing interest in anaerobic bacteria used for bioremediation of polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs) in river sediments, dechlorination of the solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) and chloroform. Ligninolytic fungi
such as the white rot fungus Phanaerochaete chrysosporium have the ability to degrade an extremely diverse range of persistent
or toxic environmental pollutants. Methylotrophs, aerobic bacteria that grow utilizing methane for carbon and energy. The initial
enzyme in the pathway for aerobic degradation, methane monooxygenase, has a broad substrate range and is active against a wide
range of compounds, including the chlorinated aliphatic trichloroethylene and 1, 2dichloroethane.
Therefore, microorganisms represent a promising, largely untapped resource for new environmental biotechnologies.
Research continues to verify the bioremediation potential of microorganisms. For instance, a recent addition to the growing list
of bacteria that can reduce metals is Geobacter metallireducens, which removes uranium, a radioactive waste, from drainage
waters in mining operations and from contaminated groundwater
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