alexa Microbial extracellular polymeric substances: central elements in heavy metal bioremediation.
Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences

Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology

Author(s): Pal A, Paul AK

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Abstract Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of microbial origin are a complex mixture of biopolymers comprising polysaccharides, proteins, nucleic acids, uronic acids, humic substances, lipids, etc. Bacterial secretions, shedding of cell surface materials, cell lysates and adsorption of organic constituents from the environment result in EPS formation in a wide variety of free-living bacteria as well as microbial aggregates like biofilms, bioflocs and biogranules. Irrespective of origin, EPS may be loosely attached to the cell surface or bacteria may be embedded in EPS. Compositional variation exists amongst EPS extracted from pure bacterial cultures and heterogeneous microbial communities which are regulated by the organic and inorganic constituents of the microenvironment. Functionally, EPS aid in cell-to-cell aggregation, adhesion to substratum, formation of flocs, protection from dessication and resistance to harmful exogenous materials. In addition, exopolymers serve as biosorbing agents by accumulating nutrients from the surrounding environment and also play a crucial role in biosorption of heavy metals. Being polyanionic in nature, EPS forms complexes with metal cations resulting in metal immobilization within the exopolymeric matrix. These complexes generally result from electrostatic interactions between the metal ligands and negatively charged components of biopolymers. Moreover, enzymatic activities in EPS also assist detoxification of heavy metals by transformation and subsequent precipitation in the polymeric mass. Although the core mechanism for metal binding and / or transformation using microbial exopolymer remains identical, the existence and complexity of EPS from pure bacterial cultures, biofilms, biogranules and activated sludge systems differ significantly, which in turn affects the EPS-metal interactions. This paper presents the features of EPS from various sources with a view to establish their role as central elements in bioremediation of heavy metals.
This article was published in Indian J Microbiol and referenced in Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology

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