Author(s): Kamaludeen SP, Megharaj M, Juhasz AL, Sethunathan N, Naidu R
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Abstract Discharge of Cr waste from many industrial applications such as leather tanning, textile production, electroplating, metallurgy, and petroleum refinery has led to large-scale contamination of land and water. Generally, Cr exists in two stable states: Cr(III) and Cr(VI). Cr(III) is not very soluble and is immobilized by precipitation as hydroxides. Cr(VI) is toxic, soluble, and easily transported to water resources. Cr(VI) undergoes rapid reduction to Cr(III), in the presence of organic sources or other reducing compounds as electron donors, to become precipitated as hydroxides. Cr(VI)-reducing microorganisms are ubiquitous in soil and water. A wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts; and algae, with exceptional ability to reduce Cr(VI) to Cr(III) anaerobically and/or aerobically, have been isolated from Cr-contaminated and noncontaminated soils and water. Bioremediation approaches using the Cr(VI)-reducing ability of introduced (in bioreactors) or indigenous (augmented by supplements with organic amendments) microorganisms has been more successful for remediation of Cr-contaminated water than soils. Apart from enzymatic reduction, nonenzymatic reduction of Cr(VI) can also be common and widespread in the environment. For instance, biotic-abiotic coupling reactions involving the microbially formed products, H2S (the end product of sulfate reduction), Fe(II) [formed by Fe(III) reduction], and sulfite (formed during oxidation of elemental sulfur), can mediate the dissimilatory reduction of Cr(VI). Despite the dominant occurrence of enzymatic and nonenzymatic reduction of Cr(VI), natural attenuation of Cr(VI) is not taking place at a long-term contaminated site in South Australia, even 225 years after the last disposal of tannery waste. Evidence suggests that excess moisture conditions leading to saturation or flooded conditions promote the complete removal of Cr(VI) in soil samples from this contaminated site; but Cr(VI) reappears, probably because of oxidation of the Cr(III) by Mn oxides, with a subsequent shift to drying conditions in the soil. In such environments with low natural attenuation capacity resulting from reversible oxidation of Cr(III), bioeremediation of Cr(VI) can be a challenging task.
This article was published in Rev Environ Contam Toxicol
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation