Bioremediation Abilities of Antarctic Fungi



As a consequence of human activities in Antarctica, the use of fuels (for transportation and energy production), waste incineration, sewage production, and accidental oil spills are considered the main sources of anthropogenic contaminants in this extremely cold environment. Also, heavy metals, antibiotics, pesticides, and other persistent pollutants can reach the Antarctic continent through aerial transportation and marine currents. Nevertheless, Antarctica is one of the best places when looking for cold-adapted fungi with bioremediation abilities. The focus of this book chapter is the study of yeasts isolated from Antarctica and their possible use for bioremediation. Special attention is given to two groups: firstly, yeasts able to assimilate phenol and tolerate all tested heavy metal, as they could be valuable as inoculant for wastewater treatment in cold environments, and secondly, yeasts able to assimilate n-hexadecane and produce lipase and esterase, as these enzymes are related with the bioremediation of aliphatic hydrocarbons. One selected yeast, Pichia caribbica, is able to assimilate several n-alkanes and diesel fuel and also produce lipase and esterase. These combined with its high level of biomass production and the extended exponential growth phase make it a promising tool for cold environment biotechnological purposes in the field of cold enzyme production and oil spill bioremediation as well. This review provides an insight into the analysis of psychrophilic/psychrotolerant pollutant-degrading yeast isolated from a peculiar cold and isolated region: Antarctica. Next step should be focused on in situ experimentation in Antarctica, with the aim to make human presence there as imperceptible as possible and to maintain the primeval characteristics of its biodiversity and environment.


Contamination Biological treatment Antarctica Psychrophiles Psychrotolerant Yeasts 


  1. Aislabie J, Fraser R, Duncan S, Farrell RL (2001) Effects of oil spills on microbial heterotrophs in Antarctic soils. Polar Biol 24(5):308–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ATCM (1991) Antarctic treaty consultative meeting.
  3. Alexander M (1999) Biodegradation and bioremediation. Gulf Professional Publishing, Houston Texas, USA, p 503Google Scholar
  4. Bargagli R (2008) Environmental contamination in Antarctic ecosystems. Sci Total Environ 400(1-3):212–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Basha KM, Rajendran A, Thangavelu V (2010) Recent advances in the biodegradation of phenol: a review. Asian J Exp Biol Sci 1(2):219–234Google Scholar
  6. Bonfá MRL, Grossman MJ, Piubeli F, Mellado E, Durrant LR (2013) Phenol degradation by halophilic bacteria isolated from hypersaline environments. Biodegradation 24(5):699–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bowman N, Patel P, Sanchez S, Xu W, Alsaffar A, Tiquia-Arashiro SM (2018) Lead-Resistant bacteria from Saint Clair River sediments and Pb removal in aqueous solutions. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 102:2391–2398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buzzini P, Branda E, Goretti M, Turchetti B (2012) Psychrophilic yeasts from worldwide glacial habitats: diversity, adaptation strategies and biotechnological potential. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 82(2):217–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carrasco M, Rozas JM, Barahona S, Alcaíno J, Cifuentes V, Baeza M (2012) Diversity and extracellular enzymatic activities of yeasts isolated from King George Island, the sub-Antarctic region. BMC Microbiol 12:251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Collins T, Roulling F, Piette F, Marx JC, Feller G, Gerday C, D’Amico S (2008) Fundamentals of cold-adapted enzymes. In: Margesin R et al (eds) Psychrophiles: from biodiversity to biotechnology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 211–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Connel L, Redman R, Craig S, Scorzetti G, Iszard M, Rodriguez R (2008) Diversity of soil yeasts isolated from South Victoria Land, Antarctica. Microb Ecol 56:448–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coppotelli BM, Ibarrolaza A, Del Panno MT, Morelli IS (2008) Effects of the inoculant strain Sphingomonas paucimobilis 20006FA on soil bacterial community and biodegradation in phenanthrene-contaminated soil. Microb Ecol 55:173–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Corsolini S (2009) Industrial contaminants in Antarctic biota. J Chromatogr A 1216:598–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Curtosi A, Pelletier E, Vodopivez CL, Mac Cormack WP (2007) Distribution pattern of PAHs in soil and surface marine sediments near Jubany Station (Antarctica). Possible role of permafrost as a low-permeability barrier. Sci Total Environ 383:193–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Curtosi A, Pelletier E, Vodopivez C, St Louis R, Mac Cormack WP (2010) Presence and distribution of persistent toxic substances in sediments and marine organisms of Potter Cove, Antarctica. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 59(4):582–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. de Jesús HE, Peixoto RS, Rosado AS (2015) Bioremediation in Antarctic soils. J Pet Environ Biotechnol 6(248):2Google Scholar
  17. Das N, Chandran P (2011) Microbial degradation of petroleum hydrocarbon contaminants: an overview. Biotechnol Res Int 2011:13Google Scholar
  18. De Maayer P, Anderson D, Cary C, Cowan DA (2014) Some like it cold: understanding the survival strategies of psychrophiles. EMBO Rep 15:508–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fernández PM, Cabral ME, Delgado OD, Fariña JI, Figueroa LIC (2013) Textile dye polluted waters as an unusual source for selecting chromate-reducing yeasts through Cr(VI)-enriched microcosms. Int Biodeter Biodegr 79:28–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fernández PM, Martorell MM, Blaser MG, Ruberto LAM, de Figueroa LIC, Mac Cormack WP (2017) Phenol degradation and heavy metal tolerance of Antarctic yeasts. Extremophiles 21(3):445–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hamid B, Rana RS, Chauhan D, Singh P, Mohiddin FA, Sahay S, Abidi I (2014) Psychrophilic yeasts and their biotechnological applications-a review. Afr J Biotechnol 13(22):2188–2197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Haritash AK, Kaushik CP (2009) Biodegradation aspects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): a review. J Hazard Mater 169(1-3):1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hassanshahian M, Emtiazi G, Kermanshahi RK, Cappello S (2010) Comparison of oil degrading microbial communities in sediments from the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea. Soil Sediment Contam 19(3):277–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Joshi-Navare K, Singh PK, Prabhune AA (2014) New yeast isolate Pichia caribbica synthesizes xylolipid biosurfactant with enhanced functionality. Eur J Lipid Sci Technol 116(8):1070–1079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kennicutt MC II, Klein A, Montagna P, Sweet S, Wade T, Palmer T, Denoux G (2010) Temporal and spatial patterns of anthropogenic disturbance at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Environ Res Lett 5(3):034010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lo Giudice A, Casella P, Bruni V, Michaud L (2013) Response of bacterial isolates from Antarctic shallow sediments towards heavy metals, antibiotics and polychlorinated biphenyls. Ecotoxicology 22:240–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lu Z, Cai M, Wang J, Yang H, He J (2012) Baseline values for metals in soils on Fildes Peninsula, King George Island, Antarctica: the extent of anthropogenic pollution. Environ Monit Assess 184(11):7013–7021CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mac Cormack WP, Ruberto LAM, Curtosi A, Vodopivez C (2011) Human impacts in the Antarctic coastal zones: the case study of hydrocarbons contamination at Potter Cove, South Shetland Islands. In: Scott Coffen-Smout (co-ed) Ocean year book, vol 25. Brill/Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, p. 141-170.Google Scholar
  29. Margesin R (2009) Effect of temperature on growth parameters of psychrophilic bacteria and yeasts. Extremophiles 13(2):257–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Margesin R (2014) Bioremediation and biodegradation of hydrocarbons by cold-adapted yeasts. In: Cold-adapted yeasts. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 465–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Margesin R, Feller G (2010) Biotechnological applications of psychrophiles. Environ Technol 31:835–844CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Margesin R, Miteva V (2011) Diversity and ecology of psychrophilic microorganisms. Res Microbiol 162(3):346–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Martínez Álvarez LM, Balbo AL, Mac Cormack WP, Ruberto LAM (2015) Bioremediation of a petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated Antarctic soil: optimization of a biostimulation strategy using response-surface methodology (RSM). Cold Reg Sci Technol 119:61–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Martínez Álvarez LM, Ruberto LAM, Balbo AL, Mac Cormack WP (2017) Bioremediation of hydrocarbon-contaminated soils in cold regions: development of a pre-optimized biostimulation biopile-scale field assay in Antarctica. Sci Total Environ 590:194–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Martorell MM, Ruberto LAM, Fernández PM, Figueroa LIC, Mac Cormack WP (2017) Bioprospection of cold-adapted yeasts with biotechnological potential from Antarctica. J Basic Microbiol 57(6):504–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Oest A, Alsaffar A, Fenner M, Azzopardi D, Tiquia-Arashiro SM (2018) Patterns of change in metabolic capabilities of sediment microbial communities along river and lake ecosystems. J Int Microbiol 2018:6234931. Scholar
  37. Patel D, Gismondi R, Ali A, Tiquia-Arashiro SM (2019) Applicability of API ZYM to capture seasonal and spatial variabilities in lake and river sediments. Environ Technol.
  38. Ribeiro AP, Figueira RC, Martins CC, Silva CR, França EJ, Bícego MC, Montone RC (2011) Arsenic and trace metal contents in sediment profiles from the Admiralty Bay, King George Island, Antarctica. Mar Pollut Bull 62(1):192–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rovati JI, Pajot HF, Ruberto LAM, Mac Cormack WP, Figueroa LIC (2013) Polyphenolic substrates and dyes degradation by yeasts from 25 de Mayo/King George Island (Antarctica). Yeast 30(11):459–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ruberto L, Dias R, Lo Balbo A, Vazquez SC, Hernandez EA, Mac Cormack WP (2009) Influence of nutrients addition and bioaugmentation on the hydrocarbon biodegradation of a chronically contaminated Antarctic soil. J Appl Microbiol 106(4):1101–1110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ruberto L, Vazquez SC, Dias RL, Hernández EA, Coria SH, Levin G, Mac Cormack WP (2010) Small-scale studies towards a rational use of bioaugmentation in an Antarctic hydrocarbon-contaminated soil. Antarct Sci 22(5):463–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ruisi S, Barreca D, Selbmann L, Zucconi L (2007) Fungi in Antarctica. Rev Environ Sci Biotechnol 6(1–3):127–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Satchanska G, Topalova Y, Dimkov R, Groudeva V, Petrov P, Tsvetanov C, Selenska-Pobell S, Golovinsky E (2015) Phenol degradation by environmental bacteria entrapped in cryogels. Biotechnol Biotechnol Equip 29:514–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schirmer A, Rude MA, Li X, Popova E, Del Cardayre SB (2010) Microbial biosynthesis of alkanes. Science 329(5991):559–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shivaji S, Prasad GS (2009) Antarctic yeasts: biodiversity and potential applications. In: Satyanarayana T, Kunze G (eds) Yeast biotechnology: diversity and applications. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 3–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Si-Zhong Y, Hui-Jun J, Zhi W, Rui-Xia HE, Yan-Jun JI, Xiu-Mei LI, Shao-Peng YU (2009) Bioremediation of oil spills in cold environments: a review. Pedosphere 19(3):371–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Smykla J, Szarek-Gwiazda E, Drewnik M, Knap W, Emslie SD (2018) Natural variability of major and trace elements in non-ornithogenic Gelisols at Edmonson Point, northern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Pol Polar Res 39(1):19–50Google Scholar
  48. Statham TM, Stark SC, Snape I, Stevens GW, Mumford KA (2016) A permeable reactive barrier (PRB) media sequence for the remediation of heavy metal and hydrocarbon contaminated water: a field assessment at Casey Station, Antarctica. Chemosphere 147:368–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Suciu I, Cosma C, Todică M, Bolboacă SD, Jäntschi L (2008) Analysis of soil heavy metal pollution and pattern in central Transylvania. Int J Mol Sci 9:434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Thavamani P, Megharaj M, Naidu R (2012) Bioremediation of high molecular weight polyaromatic hydrocarbons co-contaminated with metals in liquid and soil slurries by metal tolerant PAHs degrading bacterial consortium. Biodegradation 23:823–835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Thomas-Hall SR, Turchetti B, Buzzini P, Branda E, Boekhout T, Theelen B, Watson K (2010) Cold-adapted yeasts from Antarctica and the Italian Alps—description of three novel species: Mrakiarobertii sp. nov., Mrakiablollopis sp. nov. and Mrakiellaniccombsii sp. nov. Extremophiles 14:47–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tiquia SM, Mormile M (2010) Extremophiles–a source of innovation for industrial and environmental applications. Environ Technol 31(8–9):823CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tiquia-Arashiro SM (2018) Lead absorption mechanisms in bacteria as strategies for lead bioremediation. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 102:5437–5444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tiquia-Arashiro SM, Rodrigues D (2016) Thermophiles and psychrophiles in nanotechnology. In: Extremophiles: applications in nanotechnology. Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland, pp 89–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Turchetti B, Buzzini P, Goretti M, Branda E, Diolaiuti G, D’Agata C, Vaughan-Martini A (2008) Psychrophilic yeasts in glacial environments of Alpine glaciers. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 63(1):73–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tyagi M, da Fonseca MMR, de Carvalho CC (2011) Bioaugmentation and biostimulation strategies to improve the effectiveness of bioremediation processes. Biodegradation 22(2):231–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Vázquez S, Nogales B, Ruberto L, Hernández E, Christie-Oleza J, Balbo AL, Mac Cormack WP (2009) Bacterial community dynamics during bioremediation of diesel oil-contaminated Antarctic soil. Microb Ecol 57(4):598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Viswanath B, Rajesh B, Janardhan A, Kumar AP, Narasimha G (2014) Fungal laccases and their applications in bioremediation. Enzyme Res 2014:21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wong KK, Quilty B, Hamzah A, Surif S (2015) Phenol biodegradation and metal removal by a mixed bacterial consortium. Biorem J 19:104–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yang S, Jin H, Wei Z, He R (2009) Bioremediation of oil spills in cold environments: a review. Pedosphere 19(3):371–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zalar P, Gunde-Cimerman N (2014) Cold-adapted yeasts in Arctic habitats. In: Buzzini P, Margesin R (eds) Cold-adapted yeasts. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 49–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Antártico Argentino (IAA)Buenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Universidad de Buenos AiresCiudad Autónoma de Buenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Instituto de Nanobiotecnología (NANOBIOTEC-UBA-CONICET)Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos AiresArgentina
  4. 4.Planta Piloto de Procesos Industriales Microbiológicos (PROIMI-CONICET)San Miguel de TucumánArgentina
  5. 5.Universidad Nacional de Tucumán (UNT)San Miguel de TucumánArgentina

Personalised recommendations