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Better safe than sorry

Researchers explore solutions for potential ionic liquid bioremediation

Oeiras, 04.02.11

Even though ionic liquids are considered a safer alternative to petroleum derivatives, any eventual spillage would nevertheless constitute an environmental concern. Thinking of possible bioremediation solutions, ITQB researchers (Labs of Molecular Themodynamics and Applied and Environmental Mycology) have taken advantage of the ability of certain microorganisms to survive in ionic liquid-containing media and further characterized the surviving microbial strains. The work has just been published in Green Chemistry.

The analysis started with those microbes most likely to resist these liquid salts: a microorganisms’ cocktail of those species living in locations of high salinity and high hydrocarbon loads. Soil samples were collected in the region of Aveiro, Portugal. The fungal and bacterial strains able to survive after exposure to high concentrations of ionic liquids were selected and taxonomically characterized. Fungi were the most resilient organisms and some were able to grow in the presence of molar concentrations of ionic liquids; no active growth was observed for bacteria although twelve bacterial strains were able to survive long periods of exposure.

Under the tested conditions, the biodegradation of the ionic liquids was relatively restricted; however, the isolated microbial strains constitute a set of good candidates for advanced studies of remediation as treatment for possible spills of these liquid salts.


Original Article

Green Chem., 2011, Advance Article

Impact of ionic liquids on extreme microbial biotypes from soil

Francisco J. Deive, Ana Rodríguez, Adélia Varela, Cátia Rodrígues, Maria C. Leitão, Jos A. M. P. Houbraken, Ana B. Pereiro, María A. Longo, M. Ángeles Sanromán, Robert A. Samson, Luís Paulo N. Rebelo and Cristina Silva Pereira

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