Week 1 | Temporary expert: Bioremediation

Assigned topic: Bioremediation

Humans have done a lot to pollute the world we live, contaminating soil and water with everything from oil to radioactive waste. Some parts of nature have evolved to survive pollution and might even be able to help clean up these contaminants.

Using living organisms to get rid of toxic waste is called bioremediation, which is a relatively safe and cost efficient process. The most common bioremediator is bacteria however certain plants and animals can help too.

Bioremediation is defined as a process that uses microorganisms or their enzymes to treat polluted sites for regaining their original condition (Glazer and Nikaido, 1995). Bioremediation approaches are generally classified as in situ or ex situ.

In situ bioremediation can be described as the process whereby pesticides are biologically degraded under natural conditions to either carbon dioxide and water or an attenuated transformation product. It is a low cost, low maintenance, environment-friendly, and sustainable approach for the clean-up of contaminated soils (Megharaj et al., 2011). For ex situ bioremediation, contaminated soils have to be excavated and moved to another site for treatment, which may result in a high cost. Therefore, considering the large scale of agricultural land, in situ bioremediation is preferred to ex situ remediation for restoration of contaminated agricultural soils.