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Bioremediation With The Use Of Bacteria, Serratia Marcescens

1262 words - 6 pages

The word “remediate” means to solve a problem, so the word “bioremediation” refers to the use of biological organisms to solve an environmental problem. Bacteria, fungi, protists and other microorganisms in a non-polluted environment are constantly breaking down organic matter, and when the soil is polluted, some of the organisms may die, but others will still be able to break down the pollutants. Bioremediation provides organisms that can consume the pollutants with fertilizer, oxygen, and other conditions to encourage the rapid growth of these organisms. They then would be able to break down the organic pollutants at a correspondingly faster rate. There are two general ways in which bioremediation functions. One way is where specific survival conditions of a microorganism living in the soil are enhanced to increase the rate of a pollutant’s degradation. The second way is when specialized microbes are added to degrade the contaminant. This way is less common. For many types of polluted soil, bioremediation provides an excellent method of clean-up, but in some cases the pollutant is toxic even for the microbes. These pollutants include metals such as cadmium or lead, and salts such as sodium chloride. Although it may not work in all cases, bioremediation is considerably easier than other methods because it enhances the functions that the microbes already carry out in the soil. Along with being easier, it can be much less expensive because the soil does not have to be pumped out of the ground for treatment (Environmental Inquiry-Bioremediation). Serratia Marcescens is a bacterium that is commonly used for bioremediation.
The bacterium, Serratia marcescens, was first discovered by Bartholomeo Bizio in Padua, Italy in 1819. The bacteria are rod-shaped, motile, and short. Bizio named the genus, Serratia, in honor of the Italian physicist, Serratia, and he named the species, marcescens, after the Latin word for decay. The bacteria were first used as a marker to trace bacterial activity or transmission because of its ability to produce a red pigment, prodigiosin. The bacteria were first thought to be harmless until the U. S. government began experiments concerning the transportation of biological weapons through wind current. Serratia marcescens was chosen as the experimental bacteria because of its pigmentation and its harmlessness. In “Operation Sea Spray” the United States army filled balloons with the bacteria and exploded them over San Francisco. Although the bacteria was thought to be harmless, there were reports of increasing numbers of pneumonia and urinary tract infections within the region of the experiment shortly after it was conducted.
Serratia marcescens grows at an optimal temperature of thirty-seven degrees Celsius, but can grow at five to forty degrees Celsius as well. It also grows at a pH of five to nine. The Serratia marcescens is well-known for its red pigment, prodigiosin. Prodigiosin is produced at temperatures below thirty...

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