Bioremediation is a term which defines the use of microorganisms for the removal of pollutants or other toxic agents from a contaminated site or industrial waste. Microorganisms provide natural defense mechanisms to counter the need to get rid of the pollutants and to maintain a less toxic environment. Almost every industry generates some amount of waste products that are released in the environment leading to pollution and thus efforts are being needed and made to remove these pollutants from the environmental resources or at least detoxify them to prevent their hazardous effect on human population. Agriculture industry directly affects the human health and need in comparison to any other industry. Thus agricultural industry can introduce such contaminants in human system through food chain and web, via water bodies, soil and the food products. However, being the industry which feeds inhabitants of earth, it also remains the most important industry to all mankind. One of the major agricultural contaminant of soil and water bodies is synthetic pesticides routinely used in agricultural practices to enhance the productivity. They can have their health hazardous effect on humans ranging from throat and lung problem, irritation in eyes and even death depending upon the exposure time and quantity.
A major chunk of these synthetic pesticides used involves the use of organophosphate compounds. These compounds are also referred as nerve agents as some of them are used in manufacturing of chemical weapons used by the military forces around the world. The most dangerous are the ones which have a longer shelf life and/or has to be used in high quantity to achieve the desired effect e.g. Coumaphos, Parathion, Methyl parathion etc.. The effects of these compounds on insects and human are same but they are hazardous to human if consumed at a much higher concentration level in comparison to insects due to difference in body mass, as insects have less body mass and are smaller in size. After the agricultural products are harvested, it has been observed that some amount of pesticides remain in the soil leading to soil contamination. When such contaminated soil is washed away by rain or running water they also contaminate the near by water bodies. Prolong persistence of residual pesticides also pollute the water table/ground water reservoirs through percolation across soil bed. The concentration of these toxins in the water bodies can wary depending upon the amount of pesticides used in the area. Process of bio remediation/ microbial detoxification can offer a solution to prevent entry of these toxins to food web and thus protecting humans from its adverse effect. The process of bio remediation can also be easily scaled up or down depending upon the area of impact and would help in keeping the local water bodies and ground water clean. The use of organism which produce organophosphate hydrolase enzyme have the ability to degrade the wide range of organophosphate compounds and can be exploited for the same. The mechanism of their actions and the various improvements in the strains is the main emphasis of this chapter.
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