Enzymes from Fungi are becoming a more practical solution in mitigating the effects of hydrocarbons. Enzymes are proteins found in all living cells. As such, they are biodegradable, making it a green technology with many practical applications, one of which includes bioremediation. Bioremediation is the use of naturally occurring microorganisms in the breakdown of environmental pollutants, revolutionizing how we clean up our planet.
A study published by the Journal of Environmental Science Volume 51, January 2017, Pages 52–74 (Tayssir, K. 2016) describes one of these applications in degrading polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
PAHs are a class of organic compounds that have been shown to be carcinogenic, formed through the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas, and other organic compounds. These toxins are found in our air, water and soil. This is becoming an increasing concern due to the accumulated affects, present in our food chains. This cost-effective method via in situ bioremediation thus becomes an exciting solution.
Research is still in its infancy; the rate of degradation needs to be established as well as pinpointing the most effective fungal enzymes for the purpose of bioremediation in PAH contaminated soil, air and water. A study published by Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B Soil and Plant Science Volume 66, issue 5 pages 399-405 (Mao, J. 2016) demonstrates that the use of fungal degradation over 28 days of incubation removed 77% of the PAHs soil, indicating that a particular fungal strain Scopulariopsis brevicaulis was effective in bioremediation.
Although it can be discouraging to know that the levels of PAHs found in our air, soil and water are accumulating at an alarming rate, pinpointing which strands of fungi used to treat this issue is becoming more promising.