Bioremediation of Hydrocarbons using Soil NocardiaceaeBackground (Significance of problem and justification)BioremediationThe term “bioremediation” has been used to describe the process of using microorganisms to degrade or remove hazardous components of the wastes from the environment (Glazer and Nikaido 1995). Environmental pollution with anthropogenic organic compounds is the global problem of our planet.
With the rising population of the world and daily life demands supplied through industries and modern industrialized agricultural systems, the need for preservation of ecosystems is increasingly revealed. The repeated occurrence of the calamities such as wars, earthquakes, and tsunamis are additional reasons that necessitate further attention to the cleaning of the polluted and/disrupted ecosystems. One of the most economical and stable approaches to cope with this vital task is the use of the techniques developed through progress in an interdisciplinary science, bioremediation. Bioremediation as a branch of environmental biotechnology takes advantage of various living organisms including bacteria, fungi, algae, and plants in order to remediate the contaminated ecosystems (Sardrood 2013).
Microorganisms with the ability to degrade a wide variety of compounds, like benzene, phenol, naphthalene, atrazine, nitroaromatics, biphenyls, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlorobenzoates, have been isolated and characterized (Sangodkar et al. 1989; Dickel et al. 1993; Faison 2001). Most of the physical and chemical methods employ, which in spite of the cost, do not always ensure that the contaminants are completely removed (Hardman et al., 1993).Bioremediation is the most desirable approach for cleaning up many environmental pollutants.
Hydrocarbons are compounds made up of carbon and hydrogen. Hydrocarbon pollution has far-reaching implications for both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem as well as in the atmosphere. It has been a problem ever since the use of fossil fuels began. The unprecedented increase of populations and also industrial development in both developing and developed countries during the last century have increased the threat of rampant pollution in the environment. Oil spills in oceans, leakages in pipelines carrying crude oil and gas exploration activities, production, refining, transport and storage of hydrocarbons like petroleum and its by-products also contribute to the pollution e.g.
in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria, the Gulf of Mexico, and many other places worldwide. These together are threatening the lives of animals i.e.
oil penetrates into the structure of the plumage of birds and the fur of mammals, reducing their insulating ability, and making them more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and much less buoyant in water thus animals that rely on scent to find their babies or mothers fade away due to the strong scent of the oil eventually this causes babies to be rejected or abandoned, leaving the babies to starve and eventually die (Hogan, 2008). Water surfaces and sub-surfaces are also contaminated, for example, in 2013 two different oil spills contaminated water supplies for three hundred thousand people in Miri, Malaysia; Eighty thousand people in Coca, Ecuador. In 2000, springs were contaminated by an oil spill in Clark County, Kentucky (Campbell Robertson /Clifford Krauss, 2010). In humans, an oil spill can represent an immediate fire hazard.
The Kuwaiti oil fires produced air pollution that caused respiratory distress. The Deepwater Horizon explosion killed eleven oil rig workers. The fire resulting from the Lac-Mégantic derailment killed forty-seven and destroyed half of the town’s centre, In Ikarama, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, a spill resulted in a fire and subsequent burning of at least fifty personnel on the work platform (SPDC, 2011).