Caister Academic Press

Biosurfactant Enhancement Factors in Microbial Degradation Processes

Katarzyna Paraszkiewicz
from: Microbial Biodegradation: From Omics to Function and Application (Edited by: Jerzy Długoński). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2016) Pages: 167-182.


The efficiency of remediation processes is often limited by a strong hydrophobicity of contaminant compounds. This characteristic facilitates the pollutant sorption to solid particles causing an additional decrease in the contaminant concentration in the aqueous phase. Consequently, hydrophobic compounds are characterized by poor bioavailability for organisms with potent biodegradation activity. Due to their amphiphilic structure, molecules of surface active agents (surfactants) accumulate at interfaces between immiscible phases and cause a reduction in the interfacial tension. Surfactants also exhibit emulsifying, foaming, and dispersing properties; act as detergents facilitating desorption processes; and increase the apparent water solubility and mobility of hydrophobic compounds. Moreover, surfactants can modify microbial cell properties/activity and have the same influence on contaminant bioavailability and the kinetics of microbial biodegradation processes. Biosurfactants (surfactants of biological origin, mainly produced by microorganisms) exhibit not only multidirectional activity but are also eco-friendly. The full potential of biosurfactants in remediation technologies is not utilized mostly due to the limited understanding of interactions between these compounds and the environment (organisms, contaminants, and environmental abiotic elements), as well as their high production cost read more ...
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