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  • Cited by 13
  • Print publication year: 2001
  • Online publication date: October 2009

4 - Fungal remediation of soils contaminated with persistent organic pollutants

Summary

Introduction

Laboratory-based studies have shown that fungi are able to degrade a wide range of organic pollutants (see other chapters) and have great potential for use as inoculants to remediate contaminated soil. However, soil is a heterogeneous environment and it is to be expected that experiments using fungal inocula to remove pollutants will show varying degrees of success. For example, soil environmental conditions such as pH, nutrient and oxygen levels may not be optimal for fungal growth or for activity of the fungal extracellular enzymes involved in pollutant transformation. In addition, results from laboratory studies on fungal transformation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) carried out under optimal conditions in nutritionally defined liquid media are likely to be different from those obtained in the soil environment. Despite this, fungi have been shown to transform a wide variety of POPs in soil and have been used on a large scale to remediate contaminated sites (Lamar et al., 1994). This chapter will first highlight some important issues faced by researchers when using fungi for soil remediation, provide a critical review of previous work concerning fungal transformation of organic pollutants in soil, and then discuss actual field studies using fungal inocula to remediate contaminated soil. Throughout this chapter ‘pollutant’ refers to persistent organic pollutants only.