Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 1066–1083 | Cite as

Bioremediation of industrial effluents containing heavy metals using brewing cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a green technology: a review

  • Eduardo V. SoaresEmail author
  • Helena M. V. M. Soares
Review Article


The release of heavy metals into the environment, mainly as a consequence of anthropogenic activities, constitutes a worldwide environmental pollution problem. Unlike organic pollutants, heavy metals are not degraded and remain indefinitely in the ecosystem, which poses a different kind of challenge for remediation. It seems that the “best treatment technologies” available may not be completely effective for metal removal or can be expensive; therefore, new methodologies have been proposed for the detoxification of metal-bearing wastewaters. The present work reviews and discusses the advantages of using brewing yeast cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the detoxification of effluents containing heavy metals. The current knowledge of the mechanisms of metal removal by yeast biomass is presented. The use of live or dead biomass and the influence of biomass inactivation on the metal accumulation characteristics are outlined. The role of chemical speciation for predicting and optimising the efficiency of metal removal is highlighted. The problem of biomass separation, after treatment of the effluents, and the use of flocculent characteristics, as an alternative process of cell–liquid separation, are also discussed. The use of yeast cells in the treatment of real effluents to bridge the gap between fundamental and applied studies is presented and updated. The convenient management of the contaminated biomass and the advantages of the selective recovery of heavy metals in the development of a closed cycle without residues (green technology) are critically reviewed.


Chemical speciation Electroplating wastewater bioremediation Heavy metal biosorption Incineration Metal selective recovery Yeast flocculation 



The authors thank to the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) from Portuguese Government for the financial support of this work with FEDER founds, by the Project POCTI/CTA/47875/2002 and through the grants PEST-OE/EQB/LA0023/2011 (IBB) and PEST-C/EQB/LA0006/2011 (REQUIMTE).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo V. Soares
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Helena M. V. M. Soares
    • 3
  1. 1.Bioengineering Laboratory, Chemical Engineering Department, Superior Institute of EngineeringPolytechnic Institute of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre for Biological EngineeringUniversidade do MinhoBragaPortugal
  3. 3.REQUIMTE-Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal

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