Collect. Czech. Chem. Commun. 2000, 65, 1205-1247

Bioremediation of Heavy Metal Pollution Exploiting Constituents, Metabolites and Metabolic Pathways of Livings. A Review

Pavel Kotrbaa,b and Tomáš Rumla,*

a Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Prague Institute of Chemical Technology, Technická 3, 166 28 Prague, Czech Republic
b Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, 9-2 Kizugawadai, Kizu-cho, Soraku-gun, Kyoto 619-0292, Japan


Removal of heavy metals from the soil and water or their remediation from the waste streams "at source" has been a long-term challenge. During the recent era of environmental protection, the use of microorganisms for the recovery of metals from waste streams as well as employment of plants for landfill applications has generated growing attention. Many studies have demonstrated that both prokaryotes and eukaryotes have the ability to remove metals from contaminated water or waste streams. They sequester metals from soils and sediments or solubilize them to aid their extraction. The proposed microbial processes for bioremediation of toxic metals and radionuclides from waste streams employ living cells and non-living biomass or biopolymers as biosorbents. Microbial biotransformation of metals or metalloids results in an alteration of their oxidation state or in their alkylation and subsequent precipitation or volatilization. Specific metabolic pathways leading to precipitation of heavy metals as metal sulfides, phosphates or carbonates possess significance for possible biotechnology application. Moreover, the possibility of altering the properties of living species used in heavy metal remediation or constructing chimeric organisms possessing desirable features using genetic engineering is now under study in many laboratories. The encouraging evidence as to the usefulness of living organisms and their constituents as well as metabolic pathways for the remediation of metal contamination is reviewed here. A review with 243 references.

Keywords: Heavy metals; Bioremediation; Metallothioneins; Metalloproteins; Phytochelatins; Metal chelates; Biosorption; Bioprecipitation; Biotransformation.

References: 243 live references.