Prospects for Laboratory Engineering of Bacteria to Degrade Pollutants

  • K. N. Timmis
  • F. Rojo
  • J. L. Ramos
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 45)


Over the last few decades enormous quantities of industrial chemicals have been released into the environment. A large number of them, particularly those structurally related to natural compounds, are readily degraded by soil and water microorganisms. However, a significant proportion, mainly those having novel structural elements or substituents rarely found in nature (xenobiotics), are only catabolized slowly and thus tend to persist and accumulate in the environment. Certain compounds, particularly those that exhibit some degree of toxicity, contribute substantially to environmental pollution. Recent environmental catastrophes have underscored the acute danger that industrial chemicals constitute for our biosphere. However, the existence of many waste dump sites containing highly toxic substances and large scale chronic pollution certainly represent a more important long-term hazard. Clearly, in addition to terminating current production of the more toxic and persistent industrial chemicals, it is essential to exploit more effectively the biodegradative capacities of soil microorganisms in order to diminish the consequences of existing and continuing environmental pollution.


Catabolic Pathway Phenol Hydroxylase Toluate Dioxygenase Meta Pathway Ortho Cleavage 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. N. Timmis
    • 1
  • F. Rojo
    • 1
  • J. L. Ramos
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical BiochemistryUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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