Bioremediation via in situ Microbial Degradation of Organic Pollutants

  • Carsten VogtEmail author
  • Hans Hermann Richnow
Part of the Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology book series (ABE, volume 142)


Contamination of soil and natural waters by organic pollutants is a global problem. The major organic pollutants of point sources are mineral oil, fuel components, and chlorinated hydrocarbons. Research from the last two decades discovered that most of these compounds are biodegradable under anoxic conditions. This has led to the rise of bioremediation strategies based on the in situ biodegradation of pollutants. Monitored natural attenuation is a concept by which a contaminated site is remediated by natural biodegradation; to evaluate such processes, a combination of chemical and microbiological methods are usually used. Compound specific stable isotope analysis emerged as a key method for detecting and quantifying in situ biodegradation. Natural attenuation processes can be initiated or accelerated by manipulating the environmental conditions to become favorable for indigenous pollutant degrading microbial communities or by adding externally breeded specific pollutant degrading microorganisms; these techniques are referred to as enhanced natural attenuation. Xenobiotic micropollutants, such as pesticides or pharmaceuticals, contaminate diffusively large areas in low concentrations; the biodegradation pattern of such contaminations are not yet understood.

Graphical Abstract


In situ biodegradation Micropollutants Mineral oil Monitored and enhanced natural attenuation 



Benzyl succinate synthase






Chlorinated hydrocarbons


Compound-specific isotope analysis


Two-dimensional compound specific isotope analysis


Dense nonaqueous phase liquids


European Environment Agency


Ethyl-tert-butyl ether


Enhanced natural attenuation


Hydrogen releasing compounds


Isotope ratio mass spectrometry


Liquid chromatography-isotope ratio mass spectrometry


Milligram per liter


Monitored natural attenuation


Methyl-tert-butyl ether


Nonaqueous phase liquids


National Research Council


Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Tetrachloroethylene or perchloroethylene


Persistent organic pollutants




United States of America


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Isotope BiogeochemistryHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research—UFZLeipzigGermany

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