Coupling microbial catabolic actions with abiotic redox process: A new recipe for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) removal
Jong-Rok Jeon, Kumarasamy Murugesan, In-Hyun Nam, Yoon-Seok Chang
The continuous release of toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) into the environment has raised a need for effective cleanup methods. The tremendous natural diversity of microbial catabolic mechanisms suggests that catabolic routes may be applied to the remediation of POPs-contaminated fields. A large number of the recalcitrant xenobiotics have been shown to be removable via the natural catabolic mechanisms of microbes, and detailed biochemical studies of the catabolic methods, together with the development of sophisticated genetic engineering, have led to the use of synthetic microbes for the bioremediation of POPs. However, the steric effects of substituted halogen moieties, microbe toxicity, and the low bioavailability of POPs still deteriorate the efficiency of removal strategies based on natural and synthetic catabolic mechanisms. Recently, abiotic redox processes that induce rapid reductive dehalogenation, hydroxyl radical-based oxidation, or electron shuttling have been reasonably coupled with microbial catabolic actions, thereby compensating for the drawbacks of biotic processes in POPs removal. In this review, we first compare the pros and cons of individual methodologies (i.e., the natural and synthetic catabolism of microbes and the abiotic processes involving zero-valent irons, advanced oxidation processes, and small organic stimulants) for POPs removal. We then highlight recent trends in coupling the biotic-abiotic methodologies and discuss how the processes are both feasible and superior to individual methodologies for POPs cleanup. Cost effective and environmentally sustainable abiotic redox actions could enhance the microbial bioremediation potential for POPs.