Biosurfactants in Soil Bioremediation

  • Vivek RangarajanEmail author
  • Mahesh Narayanan
Part of the Microorganisms for Sustainability book series (MICRO, volume 3)


Biosurfactants are powerful surface active agents synthesized essentially by microbes. They have interesting properties such as biodegradability, less toxicity and stability at extremes of pH, temperature and salinity. Their diverse structures along with superior properties qualify them as potential candidates for application in food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, agricultural and environmental industries. The current chapter discusses the salient features of two important biosurfactants, lipopeptides and rhamnolipids, and their use in the lab-scale remediation of soil contaminated with heavy metals and hydrocarbons.


Biosurfactants Lipopeptides Rhamnolipids Remediation of oil wastes Heavy metal bioremediation  


  1. Ahn CK, Park D, Woo SH, Park JM (2009) Removal of cationic heavy metal from aqueous solution by activated carbon impregnated with anionic surfactants. J Hazard Mater 164(2–3):1130–1136. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Amani H (2015) Evaluation of biosurfactants and surfactants for crude oil contaminated sand washing. Pet Sci Technol 33(5):510–519. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banat IM, Makkar RS, Cameotra SS (2000) Potential commercial applications of microbial surfactants. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 53(5):495–508CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bendaha MEA, Meddah B, Belaouni HA, Mokhtar M, Tirtouil A (2016) Removal of zinc and cadmium ions from contaminated soils with rhamnolipid biosurfactant produced by pseudomonas aeruginosa S7ps5. J Fund Appl Sci 8(3):1146–1165. Google Scholar
  5. Bera A, Mandal A (2015) Microemulsions: a novel approach to enhanced oil recovery: a review. J Pet Explor Prod Technol 5(3):255–268. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bonmatin JM, Laprevote O, Peypoux F (2003) Diversity among microbial cyclic lipopeptides: iturins and surfactins. Activity-structure relationships to design new bioactive agents. Comb Chem High T Scr 6(6):541–556Google Scholar
  7. Carroll B, Campana N (2008) The removal of particles from oils by nonionic surfactants. J Dispers Sci Technol 29(10):1515–1519. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chaprao MJ, Ferreira INS, Correa PF, Rufino RD, Luna JM, Silva EJ, Sarubbo LA (2015) Application of bacterial and yeast biosurfactants for enhanced removal and biodegradation of motor oil from contaminated sand. Electron J Biotechnol 18(6):471–479. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Connolly HE, Rahman PKSM, Banat IM, Lord RA (2010) Resource recovery and reduction of oily hazardous wastes via biosurfactant washing and bioremediation. In: Płaza G (ed) Trends in bioremediation and phytoremediation. Research Signpost, ThiruvananthapuramGoogle Scholar
  10. da Silva SS, Chiavone O, Neto ELD, Foletto EL (2015) Oil removal of oilfield-produced water by induced air flotation using nonionic surfactants. Desalin Water Treat 56(7):1802–1808. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Das P, Mukherjee S, Sen R (2009) Biosurfactant of marine origin exhibiting heavy metal remediation properties. Bioresour Technol 100(20):4887–4890. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. De Almeida DG, Da Silva RDFS, Luna JM, Rufino RD, Santos VA, Banat IM, Sarubbo LA (2016) Biosurfactants: promising molecules for petroleum biotechnology advances. Front Microbiol 7:Artn 1718. Google Scholar
  13. Dhenain A, Mercier G, Blais JF, Bergeron M (2006) PAH removal from black sludge from aluminium industry by flotation using non-ionic surfactants. Environ Technol 27(9):1019–1030. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Diaz MA, De Ranson IU, Dorta B, Banat IM, Blazquez ML, Gonzalez F, Munoz JA, Ballester A (2015) Metal removal from contaminated soils through bioleaching with oxidizing bacteria and rhamnolipid biosurfactants. Soil Sediment Contam 24(1):16–29. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. El Zeftawy MAM, Mulligan CN (2011) Use of rhamnolipid to remove heavy metals from wastewater by micellar-enhanced ultrafiltration (MEUF). Sep Purif Technol 77(1):120–127. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gudina EJ, Rangarajan V, Sen R, Rodrigues LR (2013) Potential therapeutic applications of biosurfactants. Trends Pharmacol Sci 34(12):667–675. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Han YC, Huang X, Cao MW, Wang YL (2008) Micellization of surfactin and its effect on the aggregate conformation of Amyloid beta(1-40). J Phys Chem B 112(47):15195–15201. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Jung J, Yang JS, Kim SH, Yang JW (2008) Feasibility of micellar-enhanced ultrafiltration (MEUF) for the heavy metal removal in soil washing effluent. Desalination 222(1–3):202–211. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kanlayavattanakul M, Lourith N (2010) Lipopeptides in cosmetics. Int J Cosmet Sci 32(1):1–8. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Mukherjee AK (2007) Potential application of cyclic lipopeptide biosurfactants produced by Bacillus subtilis strains in laundry detergent formulations. Lett Appl Microbiol 45(3):330–335. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Mukherjee S, Das P, Sen R (2006) Towards commercial production of microbial surfactants. Trends Biotechnol 24(11):509–515. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Mulligan CN (2005) Environmental applications for biosurfactants. Environ Pollut 133(2):183–198. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Mulligan CN, Wang SL (2006) Remediation of a heavy metal-contaminated soil by a rhamnolipid foam. Eng Geol 85(1–2):75–81. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mulligan CN, Yong RN, Gibbs BF (1999a) On the use of biosurfactants for the removal of heavy metals from oil-contaminated soil. Environ Prog 18(1):50–54. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mulligan CN, Yong RN, Gibbs BF (1999b) Removal of heavy metals from contaminated soil and sediments using the biosurfactant surfactin. J Soil Contam 8(2):231–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mulligan CN, Yong RN, Gibbs BF, James S, Bennett HPJ (1999c) Metal removal from contaminated soil and sediments by the biosurfactant surfactin. Environ Sci Technol 33(21):3812–3820. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mulligan CN, Yong RN, Gibbs BF (2001) Surfactant-enhanced remediation of contaminated soil: a review. Eng Geol 60(1–4):371–380. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mungray AA, Kulkarni SV, Mungray AK (2012) Removal of heavy metals from wastewater using micellar enhanced ultrafiltration technique: a review. Cent Eur J Chem 10(1):27–46. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nitschke M, Costa SGVAO (2007) Biosurfactants in food industry. Trends Food Sci Technol 18(5):252–259. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Patel J, Borgohain S, Kumar M, Rangarajan V, Somasundaran P, Sen R (2015) Recent developments in microbial enhanced oil recovery. Renew Sust Energ Rev 52:1539–1558. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peypoux F, Bonmatin JM, Wallach J (1999) Recent trends in the biochemistry of surfactin. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 51(5):553–563CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Rahman PKSM, Randhawa KKS (2015) Editorial: microbiotechnology based surfactants and their applications. Front Microbiol 6:Artn 1344. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Randhawa KKS, Rahman PKSM (2014) Rhamnolipid biosurfactants – past, present, and future scenario of global market. Front Microbiol 5:Artn 454. Google Scholar
  34. Rangarajan V, Clarke KG (2015) Process development and intensification for enhanced production of Bacillus lipopeptides. Biotechnol Genet Eng Rev 31(1–2):46–68. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Rangarajan V, Clarke KG (2016) Towards bacterial lipopeptide products for specific applications – a review of appropriate downstream processing schemes. Process Biochem 51(12):2176–2185. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ren MM, Yuan XZ, Zhu Y, Huang HJ, Zeng GM, Li H, Chen M, Wang H, Chen CY, Lin NB (2014) Effect of different surfactants on removal efficiency of heavy metals in sewage sludge treated by a novel method combining bio-acidification with Fenton oxidation. J Cent South Univ 21(12):4623–4629. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rodrigues L, Banat IM, Teixeira J, Oliveira R (2006) Biosurfactants: potential applications in medicine. J Antimicrob Chemother 57(4):609–618. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Santanna VC, Curbelo FDS, Dantas TNC, Neto AAD, Albuquerque HS, Garnica AIC (2009) Microemulsion flooding for enhanced oil recovery. J Pet Sci Eng 66(3–4):117–120. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sen R (2008) Biotechnology in petroleum recovery: the microbial EOR. Prog Energy Combust Sci 34(6):714–724. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sen R, Swaminathan T (1997) Application of response-surface methodology to evaluate the optimum environmental conditions for the enhanced production of surfactin. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 47(4):358–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shah A, Shahzad S, Munir A, Nadagouda MN, Khan GS, Shams DF, Dionysiou DD, Rana UA (2016) Micelles as soil and water decontamination agents. Chem Rev 116(10):6042–6074. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Shaligram NS, Singhal RS (2010) Surfactin – a review on biosynthesis, fermentation, purification and applications. Food Technol Biotechnol 48(2):119–134Google Scholar
  43. Slizovskiy IB, Kelsey JW, Hatzinger PB (2011) Surfactant-facilitated remediation of metal-contaminated soils efficacy and toxicological consequences to earthworms. Environ Toxicol Chem 30(1):112–123. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Somasundaran P, Chakraborty S, Qiang Q, Deo P, Wang J, Zhang R (2004) Surfactants, polymers and their nanoparticles for personal care applications. J Cosmet Sci 55:S1–S17PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Souza RS, Porto PSS, Pintor AMA, Ruphuy G, Costa MF, Boaventura RAR, Vilar VJP (2016) New insights on the removal of mineral oil from oil-in-water emulsions using cork by-products: effect of salt and surfactants content. Chem Eng J 285:709–717. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Urum K, Pekdemir T, Copur M (2004) Surfactants treatment of crude oil contaminated soils. J Colloid Interface Sci 276(2):456–464. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Vanittanakom N, Loeffler W, Koch U, Jung G (1986) Fengycin–a novel antifungal lipopeptide antibiotic produced by Bacillus subtilis F-29-3. J Antibiot 39(7):888–901CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Wan JZ, Meng D, Long T, Ying RR, Ye M, Zhang ST, Li Q, Zhou Y, Lin YS (2015) Simultaneous removal of lindane, lead and cadmium from soils by rhamnolipids combined with citric acid. PLoS One 10(6):ARTN e0129978. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wang SL, Mulligan CN (2004) Rhamnolipid foam enhanced remediation of cadmium and nickel contaminated soil. Water Air Soil Pollut 157(1–4):315–330. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wei QF, Mather RR, Fotheringham AF (2005) Oil removal from used sorbents using a biosurfactant. Bioresour Technol 96(3):331–334. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringBITS PilaniSancoaleIndia
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry and Biosciences, Srinivasa Ramanujan CentreSASTRA UniversityKumbakonamIndia

Personalised recommendations