Microorganisms and Organic Pollutants

Raina Margaret Maier, Terry J. Gentry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


The objective of this chapter is to describe the interaction of microorganisms with organic pollutants. In particular, the ability of heterotrophic microbes to degrade organic pollutants via a process known as bioremediation is examined. The overall process of biodegradation is discussed, including the role of contaminant structure on bioavailability and toxicity. The influence of environmental factors on biodegradation is also described including essential nutrient requirements in addition to carbon substrate; redox conditions; moisture, temperature and other soil characteristics. Degradation of specific types of organic compounds is evaluated under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Major classes of compounds discussed include: aliphatics; alicyclics and aromatics including polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides. Finally, bioremediation technologies and strategies to enhance bioremediation effectiveness are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Microbiology
Subtitle of host publicationThird Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9780123946263
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Alicyclics
  • Aliphatics
  • Aromatics
  • Bioavailability
  • Biodegradation
  • Bioremediation
  • Organic degradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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