Advances in applications of rhamnolipids biosurfactant in environmental remediation: A review

Biotechnol Bioeng. 2018 Apr;115(4):796-814. doi: 10.1002/bit.26517. Epub 2018 Jan 3.


The objective of this review is to provide a comprehensive overview of the advances in the applications of rhamnolipids biosurfactants in soil and ground water remediation for removal of petroleum hydrocarbon and heavy metal contaminants. The properties of rhamnolipids associated with the contaminant removal, that is, solubilization, emulsification, dispersion, foaming, wetting, complexation, and the ability to modify bacterial cell surface properties, were reviewed in the first place. Then current remediation technologies with integration of rhamnolipid were summarized, and the effects and mechanisms for rhamnolipid to facilitate contaminant removal for these technologies were discussed. Finally rhamnolipid-based methods for remediation of the sites co-contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals were presented and discussed. The review is expected to enhance our understanding on environmental aspects of rhamnolipid and provide some important information to guide the extending use of this fascinating chemical in remediation applications.

Keywords: bioremediation; heavy metal; organic; rhamnolipid; soil washing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Environmental Restoration and Remediation / methods*
  • Groundwater / chemistry
  • Hydrocarbons / chemistry
  • Hydrocarbons / isolation & purification
  • Metals, Heavy / chemistry
  • Metals, Heavy / isolation & purification*
  • Rhamnose / analogs & derivatives
  • Rhamnose / chemistry*
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Pollutants / chemistry
  • Soil Pollutants / isolation & purification*
  • Surface-Active Agents / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / isolation & purification*


  • Hydrocarbons
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Rhamnose