Environmental biotechnology and engineering: two convergent areas to provide real solutions for a growing world

World population is growing fast, in parallel with the use of natural resources and waste generation. Therefore, it is mandatory to take actions immediately to preserve the environment and the health and living conditions of the people. In this sense, biotechnology and engineering are key tools to provide solutions to a world with serious environmental problems.

The advances in both Biotechnology and Engineering are usually covered by international meetings that typically dedicate only one or two sessions to environmental applications. However, the synergistic interaction of environmental biotechnology and environmental engineering has an enormous potential for the generation of important contributions to a more sustainable development of the present society. These contributions will undoubtedly lead to the improvement of the life quality of the people and preserve the natural resources for the future generations. To help achieve this goal, the scientific community must interact in a multidisciplinary way and join efforts to come up with new ideas and thus, there was a need for an international meeting dedicated to both disciplines, with a strong vocation to share scientific and technological knowledge and promote research networking. The International Symposium on Environmental Biotechnology and Engineering (ISEBE) was conceived to present the advances in both convergent disciplines, where researches from all over the world could find a friendly ambience to share novel ideas, doubts, problems, and solutions related to these important areas of knowledge.

In this way, a series of events was developed, that began in Mexico in 2004 with the First International Meeting on Environmental Biotechnology and Engineering (IMEBE). This meeting was followed by the second and third IMEBE held in Mexico and Palma de Mallorca (Spain) in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Due to the exponential growth of interest in this series of meetings, in 2014, the 4th edition (4ISEBE) was carried out again in Mexico, now with the status of Symposium. In this opportunity, the fifth edition of the ISEBE was celebrated in San Martín city, Buenos Aires, Argentina, as an attempt to foster the participation of researchers from the south hemisphere, which concentrates most of the developing countries and the most serious environmental problems. The great impact of 5ISEBE is clearly seen in the 283 contributions sent by scientists from Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. European countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Slovak Republic, Spain) and Canada, and African countries like Algeria, Burkina Faso, and South Africa were also represented. This special issue of Environmental Science and Pollution Research has 19 articles elaborated from these contributions, representing the research areas Degradation of recalcitrant pollutants, Improvement of biotechnological processes, Fate of pollutants in different environments, Advanced treatments for contaminants and disinfection, and Thermal valorization of wastes, eco-pesticides, and miscellaneous.

Below, there is a succinct list of the articles enclosed in this special issue, classified by research areas:

Degradation of recalcitrant pollutants

  1. 1.

    Monitoring and modeling 4-chlorophenol biodegradation kinetics by phenol-acclimated activated sludge by using open respirometry.

  2. 2.

    Experimental and kinetic study for lead removal via photosynthetic consortia using genetic algorithms to parameter estimation.

  3. 3.

    Organophosphorus pesticide mixture removal from environmental matrices by a soil Streptomyces mixed culture.

Improvement of biotechnological processes

  1. 1.

    The effect of substrate/inoculum ratio on the kinetics of methane production in swine wastewater anaerobic digestion.

  2. 2.

    Strategy to identify the causes and to solve a sludge granulation problem in methanogenic reactors: application to a full-scale plant treating cheese wastewater.

  3. 3.

    Evaluation of color temperatures in the cultivation of Dunaliella salina and Nannochloropsis oculata in the production of lipids and carbohydrates.

  4. 4.

    Predicting attenuation of solar radiation (UV-B, UV-A, and PAR) in waste stabilization ponds under Sahelian climatic conditions.

Fate of pollutants in different environments

  1. 1.

    The pesticide chlordecone is trapped in the tortuous mesoporosity of allophane clays.

  2. 2.

    Non-essential element concentrations in brown grain rice: assessment by advanced data mining techniques.

  3. 3.

    Effects of pollution and bioleaching process on the mineral composition and texture of contaminated sediments of the Reconquista River, Argentina.

Advanced treatments for contaminants and disinfection

  1. 1.

    New semi-pilot scale reactor to study the photocatalytic inactivation of phages contained in aerosol.

  2. 2.

    Advanced oxidation of commercial herbicides mixture: experimental design and phytotoxicity evaluation.

  3. 3.

    Study of plasma off-gas treatment from spent ion exchange resin pyrolysis.

  4. 4.

    Devitalization of pathogens in stored pig slurry and potential risk related to its application to agricultural soil.

Thermal valorization of wastes, eco-pesticides, and miscellaneous

  1. 1.

    Combustion of pistachio shell: physicochemical characterization and evaluation of kinetic parameters.

  2. 2.

    A bionanohybrid ZnAl-NAD ecological pesticide as treatment of soft rot disease on potato (Solanum tuberosum L.).

  3. 3.

    Novel insights in biopurification system for dissipation of a pesticide mixture in repeated applications.

  4. 4.

    Improved strength and durability of concrete through metabolic activity of ureolytic bacteria.

  5. 5.

    Proteolytic extracts of three Bromeliaceae species as eco-compatible tools for leather industry.

We want to acknowledge all authors of the contributions presented in the 5ISEBE and express our gratitude to 3iA-UNSAM, Comisión de Investigaciones de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (CIC), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), and Asociación de Biotecnología, Ingeniería Ambiental y Energías Renovables (ABIAER) for supporting the meeting. We are also very grateful to the editor-in-chief, Professor Dr. Phillipe Garrigues, and his team of Associate Editors and Reviewers for their excellent work in the selection, evaluation, and management of articles from 5ISEBE submitted to the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

We invite the readership to consult the articles published in the present issue of Environmental Science and Pollution Research, along with those published in the book entitled Environmental Biotechnology and Engineering Advances 2016 (Candal et al. 2017) to keep updated in the efforts that we should still make to improve our environment and quality of life. We look forward to meeting all of you along with a stream of new participants in the next 6th ISEBE in 2018, Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, Mexico (www.itson.mx/6isebe).


  1. Candal R, Curutchet G, Domínguez-Montero L, Macarie H, Poggi-Varaldo H, Vázquez S, Sastre I. (eds.) (2017) Environmental biotechnology and engineering: ISEBE advances 2016. Cinvestav, Mexico City, 1030 pages. ISBN 978-607-9023-44-7 (http://www.documentation.ird.fr/hor/fdi:010072565)

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Correspondence to Susana C. Vázquez.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Candal, R., Curutchet, G.A., Domínguez-Montero, L. et al. Environmental biotechnology and engineering: two convergent areas to provide real solutions for a growing world. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 21267–21271 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-2636-4

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