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Microbial transformation of xenobiotics for environmental bioremediation

S Sinha
P Chattopadhyay
I Pan
S Chatterjee
P Chanda
D Bandyopadhyay
K Das
SK Sen


The accumulation of recalcitrant xenobiotic compounds is due to continuous efflux from population and industrial inputs that have created a serious impact on the pristine nature of our environment. Apart from this, these compounds are mostly carcinogenic, posing health hazards which persist over a long period of time. Metabolic pathways and specific operon systems have been found in diverse but limited groups of microbes that are responsible for the transformation of xenobiotic compounds.
Distinct catabolic genes are either present on mobile genetic elements, such as transposons and plasmids, or the chromosome itself that facilitates horizontal gene transfer and enhances the rapid microbial transformation of toxic xenobiotic compounds. Biotransformation of xenobiotic compounds in natural environment has been studied to understand the microbial ecology, physiology and evolution for their potential in bioremediation. Recent advance in the molecular techniques including DNA fingerprinting, microarrays and metagenomics is being used to augment the transformation of xenobiotic compounds. The present day understandings of aerobic, anaerobic and reductive biotransformation by co-metabolic processes and an overview of latest developments in monitoring the catabolic genes of xenobiotic-degrading bacteria are discussed elaborately in this work. Till date, several reviews have come up, highlighting the problem of xenobiotic pollution, yet a comprehensive
understanding of the microbial biodegradation of xenobiotics and its application is in nascent stage. Therefore, this is an attempt to understand the microbial role in biotransformation of xenobiotic compounds in context to the modern day biotechnology.