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Degradation of xenobiotics by thermophilic microorganisms

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Newly isolated microorganisms clean waste streams

The recent isolation of thermophilic microorganisms gives hope for the degradation of environmental pollutants in waste streams of production plants.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Environmental concerns necessitate environmentally friendly solutions for managing hazardous waste streams of production plants, which cannot be treated biologically. In this framework, the degradation of environmental pollutants, and xenobiotic compounds particularly, has been exploited with thermophilic microorganisms. Thermophilic microorganisms were found to have the ability to degrade environmental pollutants, between 55 °C and 75 °C, using aerobic and anaerobic conditions. This is directly applicable to the degradation of pollutants, which are poorly degraded at lower temperatures, due to solubility and bioavailability. It was also demonstrated that there is great potential of thermophilic microorganisms in nature, with the ability to degrade environmental pollutants at this range of temperatures. The technology, which has been tested and is available for demonstration, involved enriching thermophilic microorganisms, the degradation pathways were elucidated and the isolation and characterisation of the relevant enzymes in the degradation pathways was made feasible. This avenue sheds some light for the discovery of further microorganisms, while it brings direct benefits to companies producing high temperature contaminated effluents for degradation of these environmental pollutants, working towards a more sustainable future.

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