The use of microorganisms to clean up xenobiotics from polluted ecosystems (soil and water) represents an ecosustainable and powerful alternative to traditional remediation processes. Recent developments in molecular-biology-based techniques have led to rapid and sensitive strategies for monitoring and identifying bacteria and catabolic genes involved in the degradation of xenobiotics. This chapter provides a description of recently developed molecular-biology-based techniques, such as PCR with degenerate primers set, real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR), reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR), southern blot hybridization, and long-range PCR, used to give a picture of the catabolically relevant microorganisms and of the functional genes present in a polluted system. By using a case study of a groundwater aquifer contaminated with 1,2-dichloroethane (1,2-DCA), we describe the identification of microorganisms potentially involved in the 1,2-DCA dehalorespiration (Dehalobacter sp. and Desulfitobacterium sp.) and a complete new gene cluster encoding for a 1,2-DCA reductive dehalogenase. The application of these techniques to bioremediation can improve our understanding of the inner mechanisms to evaluate the feasibility of a given treatment and provide us with a method to follow up bacteria and catabolic genes involved in the degradation of contaminants during the activities in situ.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology