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Biotecnología Aplicada

On-line version ISSN 1027-2852


BARRIOS SAN MARTIN, Yaima. Bioremediation: a tool for the management of oil pollution in marine ecosystems. Biotecnol Apl [online]. 2011, vol.28, n.2, pp.69-76. ISSN 1027-2852.

During the last decades the course of the anthropogenic contamination of marine ecosystems has paralleled that of the oil industry. Spills of crude oil and its derivatives can have short, medium and long-term negative consequences, and the elimination of pollutants by natural means may take years or even longer. Bioremediation is an emergent branch of environmental biotechnology that is often used to accelerate this process and guarantees the reparation of damaged ecosystems, based on harnessing the metabolic capabilities of bacteria, fungi, yeast, algae and microbial mats to degrade oil hydrocarbons. Bioremediation follows two main strategies: the stimulation of indigenous microbial populations, known as biostimulation, and bioaugmentation, the introduction of viable microbial populations. Choosing one or another depends on the analysis of abiotic and biotic factors influencing the biodegradation process; the former refers to factors related with the pollutant and environmental conditions, while the latter encompasses all factors that have to do with microbial populations. The development of bioremediation has led to the appearance of commercially available products for spill cleanup: fertilizers containing biostimulating nutrients, bioproducts based on microorganisms, and chemical products to stimulate the growth of the microbial populations involved in the process of biodegradation.

Keywords : bioremediation; marine ecosystem; biodegradation of hydrocarbons; bioproducts.

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