Biodegradation of Organic Pollutants by Halophilic Bacteria and ArchaeaLe Borgne S.a · Paniagua D.b · Vazquez-Duhalt R.b
aUAM-Cuajimalpa, México, D.F., and bInstituto de Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México UNAM, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
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Hypersaline environments are important for both surface extension and ecological significance. As all other ecosystems, they are impacted by pollution. However, little information is available on the biodegradation of organic pollutants by halophilic microorganisms in such environments. In addition, it is estimated that 5% of industrial effluents are saline and hypersaline. Conventional nonextremophilic microorganisms are unable to efficiently perform the removal of organic pollutants at high salt concentrations. Halophilic microorganisms are metabolically different and are adapted to extreme salinity; these microorganisms are good candidates for the bioremediation of hypersaline environments and treatment of saline effluents. This literature survey indicates that both the moderately halophilic bacteria and the extremely halophilic archaea have a broader catabolic versatility and capability than previously thought. A diversity of contaminating compounds is susceptible to be degraded by halotolerant and halophile bacteria. Nevertheless, significant research efforts are still necessary in order to estimate the true potential of these microorganisms to be applied in environmental processes and in the remediation of contaminated hypersaline ecosystems. This effort should be also focused on basic research to understand the overall degradation mechanism, to identify the enzymes involved in the degradation process and the metabolism regulation.
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