Biotechnology and bioremediation: successes and limitations

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2002 Jul;59(2-3):143-52. doi: 10.1007/s00253-002-1024-6. Epub 2002 Jun 1.


With advances in biotechnology, bioremediation has become one of the most rapidly developing fields of environmental restoration, utilizing microorganisms to reduce the concentration and toxicity of various chemical pollutants, such as petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, phthalate esters, nitroaromatic compounds, industrial solvents, pesticides and metals. A number of bioremediation strategies have been developed to treat contaminated wastes and sites. Selecting the most appropriate strategy to treat a specific site can be guided by considering three basic principles: the amenability of the pollutant to biological transformation to less toxic products (biochemistry), the accessibility of the contaminant to microorganisms (bioavailability) and the opportunity for optimization of biological activity (bioactivity). Recent advances in the molecular genetics of biodegradation and studies on enzyme-tailoring and DNA-shuffling are discussed in this paper.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental*
  • Biological Availability
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Biotechnology*
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Genetic Engineering