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Vol. 7, No. 2, 2015, Pages: 2189 - 2212

Bioremediation of Heavy Metals from Soil and Aquatic Environment: An Overview of Principles and Criteria of Fundamental Processes

Ruchita Dixit, Wasiullah, Deepti Malaviya, Kuppusamy Pandiyan, Udai B. Singh, Asha Sahu, Renu Shukla, Bhanu P. Singh, Jai P. Rai, Pawan Kumar Sharma, Harshad Lade and Diby Paul

National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Microorganisms (NBAIM), Kushmaur, Maunath Bhanjan 275 101, India.


Heavy metals are natural constituents of the environment, but indiscriminate use for human purposes has altered their geochemical cycles and biochemical balance. This results in excess release of heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc etc. into natural resources like the soil and aquatic environments. Prolonged exposure and higher accumulation of such heavy metals can have deleterious health effects on human life and aquatic biota. The role of microorganisms and plants in biotransformation of heavy metals into nontoxic forms is well-documented, and understanding the molecular mechanism of metal accumulation has numerous biotechnological implications for bioremediation of metal-contaminated sites. In view of this, the present review investigates the abilities of microorganisms and plants in terms of tolerance and degradation of heavy metals. Also, advances in bioremediation technologies and strategies to explore these immense and valuable biological resources for bioremediation are discussed. An assessment of the current status of technology deployment and suggestions for future bioremediation research has also been included. Finally, there is a discussion of the genetic and molecular basis of metal tolerance in microbes, with special reference to the genomics of heavy metal accumulator plants and the identification of functional genes involved in tolerance and detoxification.

Keywords: heavy metals; toxicity; biodegradation; bioremediation; phytoremediation

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