About this Research Topic
Biogeochemical processes in contaminated environments could provide feedback on changes to local and global ecosystems. Thus, understanding how they are regulated will serve to aid remediation efforts, model and apply full-scale bioremediation processes, in a sustainable manner. Water is one such important aspect of our immediate environment. Earth’s vast oceans contain some 97% of all available water of the planet, while from the remaining 3% of fresh waters; roughly two-thirds are locked up in the ice caps. Saline seawaters are generally not usable in day-to-day life (drinking water, household purposes, industrial applications), thus leaving just about 1% for human consumption and nature’s needs. This scarcity is even more amplified in arid regions and forces humankind to treat and reuse all available water resources.
However, treatment costs vary greatly and depend on the employed methods, end-user’s specifications, and financial contributions or abilities. Various industries, such as petroleum production and processing, mining and beneficiation, paper and pharmaceuticals production, dyeing, printing, and agriculture, to name just a few, not only entail a high demand of freshwater resources but also generate tremendous amounts of wastewaters, rich in organics, hydrocarbons, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, etc. The release of man-made uncommon associations of mineralized compounds from the processing industries (e.g., galvanic sector), often also metal-rich and laden with additional toxic substances such as cyanides/cyanates or organometallic compounds, significantly exacerbates pollutant levels. Although such “cocktails” are very difficult or even impossible to model thermodynamically, a detailed observation of natural processes can help to shed light on interactions and stabilities of the main contaminants, thus improving our overall understanding.
Microorganisms are omnipresent and, through their metabolic activity, play a critical role in biogeochemical cycling, pollutant degradation and affecting the chemistry and physical properties of their environs. Some type of water bodies contain lower organic carbon, hence microbial population there depends mostly on redox (oxidation and reduction) of inorganic compounds for growth and energy. Thus, a better understanding of those redox biochemical processes could provide new opportunities for superior engineered bioremediation strategies.
Recent advancements in analytical chemistry tools, nanotechnology, synthetics-biology, description of contamination routes, and applications of OMICS tools pave the way for the development of tailor-made solutions for bioremediation of polluted waters. Especially, high-throughput sequencing based approaches and metagenomics have made it possible to explore complex microbial community and metabolism. Thus, combined metagenomics analysis and biogeochemical modeling could provide insight into how available nutrients (contaminants) shape the distribution and dynamics of genes and microbial populations, mediating major biogeochemical cycles.
In this special issue, we would like to highlight recent advances in the overall understanding of biogeochemical redox (microbiological) and other processes having an impact on the fate of water contaminants and transport, including future research needs. We welcome contributions in the form of reviews and original research topics dealing with the biogeochemical constraints of major water contaminants in the following fields (but not limited to):
• Water pollution: Routes, causes, and microbial treatment
• Heavy metal bioremediation
• Hydrocarbon and oil spill biotreatment,
• Oil-field produced water treatment and reuse
• Microbial community analysis with a functional (shotgun) metagenomics approach (with a main focus on reconstructing biochemical pathways of communities to provide a mechanistic framework for observed bioremediation)
• Microbes-mediated nanoparticles for water remediation
• Mathematical modeling and simulation studies for water bioremediation
• Use of treated water resources
Keywords: Water pollution, Bioremediation, Microbial community, Heavy metal and hydrocarbon toxicology, treated water reuse
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.