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Reviews of environmental contamination and toxicology

Mechanisms of hexavalent chromium resistance and removal by microorganisms.


PMID 25367133

Abstract

Chromium has been and is extensively used worldwide in multiple industrial processes and is routinely discharged to the environment from such processes. Therefore, this heavy metal is a potential threat to the environment and to public health, primarily because it is non-biodegradable and environmentally persistent. Chromium exists in several oxidation states, the most stable of which are trivalent Cr(Ill) and hexavalent Cr(VI) species. Each species possesses its own individual chemical characteristics and produces its own biological effects. For example, Cr (Ill) is an essential oligoelement for humans, whereas Cr(VI) is carcinogenic and mutagenic. Several chemical methods are used to remove Cr(VI) from contaminated sites. Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages. Currently, bioremediation is often the preferred method to deal with Cr contaminated sites, because it is eco-friendly, cost-effective and is a "natural" technology. Many yeast, bacterial and fungal species have been assessed for their suitability to reduce or remove Cr(VI) contamination. The mechanisms by which these microorganisms resist and reduce Cr(VI) are variable and are species dependent. There are several Cr-resistance mechanisms that are displayed by microorganisms. These include active efflux of Cr compounds, metabolic reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr (ill), and either intercellular or extracellular prec1p1tation. Microbial Cr (VI) removal typically involves three stages: binding of chromium to the cell surface, translocation of chromium into the cell, and reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr (ill). Cr(VI) reduction by microorganisms may proceed on the cell surface, outside the cell, or intracellularly, either directly via chromate reductase enzymes, or indirectly via metabolite reduction of Cr(VI). The uptake of chromium ions is a biphasic process. The primary step is known as biosorption, a metabolic energyindependent process. Thereafter, bioaccumulation occurs, but is much slower, and is dependent on cell metabolic activity. Choosing an appropriate bioremediation strategy for Cr is extremely important and must involve investigating and understanding the key mechanisms that are involved in microbial resistance to and removal of Cr(VI).

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