Research Topic

Marine Microbes for Contaminant Bioremediation

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About this Research Topic

The marine environment is the largest contiguous ecosystem, providing food, water, energy and bioresources. Urbanization and consequent industrialization of the landscape has resulted in contamination of the oceans worldwide by substances such as petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons ...

The marine environment is the largest contiguous ecosystem, providing food, water, energy and bioresources. Urbanization and consequent industrialization of the landscape has resulted in contamination of the oceans worldwide by substances such as petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), heavy metals, and excessive nitrogen and phosphorus. Particularly in coastal areas, these pollutants may accumulate in seawater and sediments, eventually posing a threat to human health.

Marine microorganisms play an important role in numerous biogeochemical processes, and are ideal candidates for the bioremediation of ocean contaminants, due to their diverse catalytic activities and ability to thrive under hypersaline conditions.

However, our understanding of their potential for contaminant degradation is still limited, as the majority of marine microbes are unculturable. Developing novel, efficient screening and culture methods for marine microbes from contaminated sites is essential, as it could lead to the discovery of novel microbial resources for marine contamination treatment.

To improve the bioremediation process, optimization of degradation conditions is required. Since the Research Topic ‘Marine Microbes and Bioremediation’, finalized in 2017, there have been advances in using omics methods to provide more profound insights into microbial communities and their metabolic pathways. For instance, meta-omics technologies (metagenomics, metaproteomics, metatranscriptomics and metabolomics) have been applied to identify the populations and roles of microbial communities relevant to PAHs and PHCs bioremediation, and to elucidate how environmental factors drive the assembly and function of PHC-degrading communities.

The utilization of mixed microbial consortia has been shown as a useful strategy for ex situ and in situ bioremediation of contaminants in the marine environment. Defining the key microorganisms within participating microbial communities, their metabolic pathways, and genetic elements involved, is important for improving marine bioremediation processes. Genetic engineering and synthetic biology applied to marine microbes may enhance marine contaminant remediation methods even further.

This Research Topic aims to contribute towards a better understanding of the roles and potential applications of marine microbes in contaminant bioremediation and welcomes studies (including e.g. Original Research, Perspectives, Minireviews, Commentaries and Opinion papers) that investigate and discuss the following themes:

1) Designing biological treatment of PAHs, PHCs, EDCs, heavy metals, and nitrogen and phosphorus pollution by marine microbes;
2) Novel methods of identification and functional characterization of uncultured marine microbes associated with marine contamination;
3) Bioaugmentation options for water and coastal pollutants removal;
4) Omics techniques for genome and metabolism modification of marine microbes for enhancing bioremediation;
5) The interactions between marine microbes and contaminants, and their effect on contaminant removal.

All submitted papers need to explore a clear hypothesis, purely screening studies without experimental validation will not be considered for review.


Keywords: Marine microbes, bioremediation, contamination, microbial community


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