Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 8, pp 3497–3511 | Cite as

Biodegradation of dissolved humic substances by fungi

  • Sergio Collado
  • Paula Oulego
  • Octavio Suárez-Iglesias
  • Mario Díaz


Humic and fulvic acids constitute humic substances, a complex mixture of many different acids containing carboxyl and phenolate groups, which are not only the principal soil fertility factors but also the main pollutants present in landfill leachates or natural organic matter in water. Due to their low bacterial biodegradability, fungal biodegradation processes are key for their removal. The present study compiles and comments all the available literature on decomposition of aqueous humic substances by fungi or by their extracellular enzymes alone, focusing on the influence of the reaction conditions. The biodegradation extent mainly depends on the characteristics and concentration of the humic compounds, the type of microorganisms selected, the inoculation mode, the C and N sources, the presence of certain chemicals in the medium, the availability of oxygen, the temperature, and the pH.


Humic substances Humic acid Fulvic acid Fungi Ligninolytic enzymes 



We are grateful to Prof. Dr. José Ramón Álvarez, for his help during the literature search.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

253_2018_8851_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (293 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 292 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain

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