A comprehensive review of metabolic and genomic aspects of PAH-degradation

Abstract

Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are considered as hazardous organic priority pollutants. PAHs have immense public concern and critical environmental challenge around the globe due to their toxic, carcinogenic, and mutagenic properties, and their ubiquitous distribution, recalcitrance as well as persistence in environment. The knowledge about harmful effects of PAHs on ecosystem along with human health has resulted in an interest of researchers on degradation of these compounds. Whereas physico-chemical treatment of PAHs is cost and energy prohibitive, bioremediation i.e. degradation of PAHs using microbes is becoming an efficient and sustainable approach. Broad range of microbes including bacteria, fungi, and algae have been found to have capability to use PAHs as carbon and energy source under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions resulting in their transformation/degradation. Microbial genetic makeup containing genes encoding catabolic enzymes is responsible for PAH-degradation mechanism. The degradation capacity of microbes may be induced by exposing them to higher PAH-concentration, resulting in genetic adaptation or changes responsible for high efficiency towards removal/degradation. In last few decades, mechanism of PAH-biodegradation, catabolic gene system encoding catabolic enzymes, and genetic adaptation and regulation have been investigated in detail. This review is an attempt to overview current knowledge of microbial degradation mechanism of PAHs, its genetic regulation with application of genetic engineering to construct genetically engineered microorganisms, specific catabolic enzyme activity, and application of bioremediation for reclamation of PAH-contaminated sites. In addition, advanced molecular techniques i.e. genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic techniques are also discussed as powerful tools for elucidation of PAH-biodegradation/biotransformation mechanism in an environmental matrix.

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Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the help of Dr. R.K. Shukla, Librarian, DTU for his help in getting the relevant literature from time to time.

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Correspondence to A. K. Haritash.

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The authors have no conflict of interest. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper. All the authors have agreed to the submission of the manuscript to World Journal of Microbiology & Biotechnology.

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Sakshi, Haritash, A.K. A comprehensive review of metabolic and genomic aspects of PAH-degradation. Arch Microbiol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00203-020-01929-5

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Keywords

  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Bioremediation
  • Microorganisms
  • Catabolic genes
  • Genetically modified microorganisms