CrossRef enabled

PAC Archives

Archive →

Pure Appl. Chem., 2010, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp. 97-116

Published online 2010-01-03

Biosurfactant-enhanced bioremediation of hydrophobic pollutants

Swaranjit Singh Cameotra1* and Randhir S. Makkar2

1 Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh 160036, India
2 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

Abstract: Biosurfactants are surface-active compounds synthesized by a wide variety of micro-organisms. They are molecules that have both hydrophobic and -philic domains and are capable of lowering the surface tension and the interfacial tension of the growth medium. Biosurfactants possess different chemical structures—lipopeptides, glycolipids, neutral lipids, and fatty acids. They are nontoxic biomolecules that are biodegradable. Biosurfactants also exhibit strong emulsification of hydrophobic compounds and form stable emulsions. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), crude oil sludge, and pesticides can be toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic compounds that pollute the environment. They are released into the environment as a result of oil spillage and by-products of coal treatment processes. The low water solubility of these compounds limits their availability to microorganisms, which is a potential problem for bioremediation of contaminated sites. Microbially produced surfactants enhance the bioavailability of these hydrophobic compounds for bioremediation. Therefore, biosurfactant-enhanced solubility of pollutants has potential bioremediation applications.