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Vol. 166, 2017, Pages: 41–62

Actinobacteria: Current research and perspectives for bioremediation of pesticides and heavy metals

Analia Alvarez, Juliana Maria Saez, José Sebastian Davila Costa, Veronica Leticia Colin, María Soledad Fuentes, Sergio Antonio Cuozzo, Claudia Susana Benimeli

Planta Piloto de Procesos Industriales Microbiológicos (PROIMI-CONICET), Avenida Belgrano y Pasaje Caseros, Tucumán 4000, Argentina.


Actinobacteria exhibit cosmopolitan distribution since their members are widely distributed in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In the environment they play relevant ecological roles including recycling of substances, degradation of complex polymers, and production of bioactive molecules. Biotechnological potential of actinobacteria in the environment was demonstrated by their ability to remove organic and inorganic pollutants. This ability is the reason why actinobacteria have received special attention as candidates for bioremediation, which has gained importance because of the widespread release of contaminants into the environment. Among organic contaminants, pesticides are widely used for pest control, although the negative impact of these chemicals in the environmental balance is increasingly becoming apparent. Similarly, the extensive application of heavy metals in industrial processes lead to highly contaminated areas worldwide. Several studies focused in the use of actinobacteria for cleaning up the environment were performed in the last 15 years. Strategies such as bioaugmentation, biostimulation, cell immobilization, production of biosurfactants, design of defined mixed cultures and the use of plant-microbe systems were developed to enhance the capabilities of actinobacteria in bioremediation. In this review, we compiled and discussed works focused in the study of different bioremediation strategies using actinobacteria and how they contributed to the improvement of the already existing strategies. In addition, we discuss the importance of omic studies to elucidate mechanisms and regulations that bacteria use to cope with pollutant toxicity, since they are still little known in actinobacteria. A brief account of sources and harmful effects of pesticides and heavy metals is also given.

Keywords: Actinobacteria; Bioremediation; Pesticides; Heavy metals; Environmental pollution; Co-contamination.

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