Metabolic networks, microbial ecology and 'omics' technologies: Towards understanding in situ biodegradation processes

  • Vilchez-Vargas R
  • Junca H
  • Pieper D
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Abstract

Microbial degradation is the main mechanism responsible for the recovery of contaminated sites, where a huge body of investigations is available in which most concentrate on single isolates from soils capable of mineralizing pollutants. The rapid development of molecular techniques in recent years allows immense insights into the processes in situ, including identification of organisms active in target sites, community member interactions and catabolic gene structures. Only a detailed understanding of the functioning and interactions within microbial communities will allow their rational manipulation for the purpose of optimizing bioremediation efforts. We will present the status of the current capabilities to assess and predict catabolic potential of environmental sites by applying gene fingerprinting, catabolome arrays, metagenomics and complementary 'omics' technologies. Collectively, this will allow tracking regulation and evolution within microbial communities ultimately aiming to understand the mechanisms taking place in large scale bioremediation treatments for aromatic decontamination

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