5 Fungi and Industrial Pollutants

Part of the The Mycota book series (MYCOTA, volume IV)


Fungi are capable of the degradation, utilisation and/or transformation of a wide variety of organic and inorganic substances, including xenobiotics, metals, radionuclides, and minerals. Fungal populations are therefore intimately involved in element cycling at local and global scales, and such processes have major implications for living organisms, notably plant productivity and human health. It also follows that impairment of fungal activity could have serious consequences for ecosystem function in view of their importance in terrestrial habitats and as plant symbionts. Their activities are part of natural biogeochemical cycles for major elements such as C, N, O, P and S but also metals and radionuclides, as well as having application in the natural attenuation or bioremediation of polluted sites. Despite the toxicity of organic and inorganic pollutants, fungi are ubiquitous inhabitants of polluted locations and exhibit a variety of mechanisms underpinning tolerance and survival. Some fungal transformations of pollutants have applications in environmental biotechnology, e.g. metal bioleaching, biorecovery and detoxification and xenobiotic and organic pollutant degradation and bioremediation. This chapter outlines some important interactions of fungi with organic and inorganic pollutants and highlights the interdisciplinary approach that is necessary to further understand the important roles that fungi play in pollutant transformations, the chemical and biological mechanisms that are involved, and their environmental and applied significance.


Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungus Mycorrhizal Fungus Fruiting Body Ectomycorrhizal Fungus Fungal Population 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author gratefully acknowledges research support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and the British Nuclear Fuels plc. G. M. Gadd also gratefully acknowledges an award under the 1000 Talents Plan with the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, China.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geomicrobiology Group, School of Life SciencesUniversity of DundeeDundeeUK
  2. 2.Laboratory of Environmental Pollution and BioremediationXinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiPeople’s Republic of China

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