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Scientists decide to launch field trials of oil-degrading bacteria in Kochi

Jul 25, 2016 14:06 IST

The Malabar Botanical Garden and Institute of Plant Sciences, Kozhikode, and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) in July 2016 joined hands to launch field trials of oil-degrading bacteria in Kochi.

The scientists will undertake the trail to establish the oil-degrading properties of three new strains of bacteria.

The oil-degrading properties of these bacteria will pave the way for the development of bioremediation agents to clean up petroleum pollutants from the environment.

The oil-degrading bacteria

The three new strains including two species of Burkholderia and one species of Pseudomonas have been sequenced and submitted to the Genbank database on organisms.

Scientists at the Malabar Botanical Garden and Institute of Plant Sciences have completed the sequencing of a new species of oil-degrading soil fungi belonging to the Paecilomyces genus.

They have also isolated 110 dye-yielding and anti-microbial compounds from two species of bryophytes (lower group of plants like mosses and hornworts).

Besides, 30 anti-bacterial compounds have also been isolated from two species of lichens.

What is bioremediation?

Bioremediation is the use of either naturally occurring or deliberately introduced microorganisms to consume and break down environmental pollutants. It is done to clean a polluted site.

It may occur on its own or may only effectively occur through the addition of fertilizers, oxygen, and more. The addition of oxygen, fertilizers etc. help in enhancing the growth of the pollution-eating microbes within the medium, which is known as biostimulation.

However, not all contaminants are easily treated by bioremediation using microorganisms. For example, cadmium, lead etc.

There are a number of cost advantages to bioremediation, which can be employed in areas that are inaccessible without excavation. For example, introducing bioremediation at hydrocarbon spills or certain chlorinated solvents, which may contaminate groundwater, may significantly reduce contaminant concentrations.

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