Bioremediation of metal-contaminated wastestreams has been successfully demonstrated. Normally, whole cells or microbial exopolymers are used to concentrate and/or precipitate metals in the wastestream to aid in metal removal. Analogous remediation of metal-contaminated soils is more complex because microbial cells or large exopolymers do not move freely through the soil. The use of microbially produced surfactants (biosurfactants) is an alternative with potential for remediation of metal-contaminated soils. The distinct advantage of biosurfactants over whole cells or exopolymers is their small size, generally biosurfactant molecular weights are less than 1500. A second advantage is that biosurfactants have a wide variety of chemical structures that may show different metal selectivities and thus, metal removal efficiencies. A review of the literature shows that complexation capacities of several bacterial exopolymers was similar to the complexation capacity of a rhamnolipid biosurfactant produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 9027.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis