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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2005 Jun;8(3):268-75.

Is bioaugmentation a feasible strategy for pollutant removal and site remediation?

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  • 1Unit of Bioengineering, Catholic University of Louvain, Place Croix du Sud 2/19, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


Microorganisms can degrade numerous organic pollutants owing to their metabolic machinery and to their capacity to adapt to inhospitable environments. Thus, microorganisms are major players in site remediation. However, their efficiency depends on many factors, including the chemical nature and the concentration of pollutants, their availability to microorganisms, and the physicochemical characteristics of the environment. The capacity of a microbial population to degrade pollutants within an environmental matrix (e.g. soil, sediment, sludge or wastewater) can be enhanced either by stimulation of the indigenous microorganisms by addition of nutrients or electron acceptors (biostimulation) or by the introduction of specific microorganisms to the local population (bioaugmentation). Although it has been practiced in agriculture and in wastewater treatment for years, bioaugmentation is still experimental. Many factors (e.g. predation, competition or sorption) conspire against it. However, several strategies are currently being explored to make bioaugmentation a successful technology in sites that lack significant populations of biodegrading microorganisms. Under optimal local conditions, the rate of pollutant degradation might increase upon addition of an inoculant to remediate a chemical spill; however, the most successful cases of bioaugmentation occur in confined systems, such as bioreactors in which the conditions can be controlled to favour survival and prolonged activity of the exogenous microbial population.

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