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International Microbiology

versión impresa ISSN 1139-6709


DIAZ, Eduardo. Bacterial degradation of aromatic pollutants: a paradigm of metabolic versatility. INT. MICROBIOL. [online]. 2004, vol.7, n.3, pp.173-180. ISSN 1139-6709.

Although most organisms have detoxification abilities (i.e mineralization, transformation and/or immobilization of pollutants), microorganisms, particularly bacteria, play a crucial role in biogeochemical cycles and in sustainable development of the biosphere. Next to glucosyl residues, the benzene ring is the most widely distributed unit of chemical structure in nature, and many of the aromatic compounds are major environmental pollutants. Bacteria have developed strategies for obtaining energy from virtually every compound under oxic or anoxic conditions (using alternative final electron acceptors such as nitrate, sulfate, and ferric ions). Clusters of genes coding for the catabolism of aromatic compounds are usually found in mobile genetic elements, such as transposons and plasmids, which facilitate their horizontal gene transfer and, therefore, the rapid adaptation of microorganisms to new pollutants. A successful strategy for in situ bioremediation has been the combination, in a single bacterial strain or in a syntrophic bacterial consortium, of different degrading abilities with genetic traits that provide selective advantages in a given environment. The advent of high-throughput methods for DNA sequencing and analysis of gene expression (genomics) and function (proteomics), as well as advances in modelling microbial metabolism in silico, provide a global, rational approach to unravel the largely unexplored potentials of microorganisms in biotechnological processes thereby facilitating sustainable development.

Palabras clave : aromatic compounds; catabolism; transcriptional regulation; metabolic engineering.

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