Potentials for Biosurfactant Enhanced Bioremediation of Hydrocarbon Contaminated Soil and Water–A Review

Okoro Samson Eruke

Department of Biochemistry, University of Port Harcourt, P.M.B 5323, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria

Akpabio Julius Udoh *

Department of Petroleum Engineering, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Bioavailability of Hydrophobic Organic Compounds (HOCs) to microorganisms could be a limiting factor during the biodegradation process. Application of surfactants to contaminated soil and water, at concentrations above their Critical Micelle Concentration (CMC) values, can potentially reduce the interfacial tension, increase the solubility and bioavailability of HOCs and thus, facilitate their biodegradation. Studies with respect to enhanced bioremediation by surfactant addition have greatly focused on chemically synthetic surfactants. This paper reviews the potentials of biosurfactants in remedying contaminated soils and water. Biosurfactants are surface-active substances produced by microorganisms that can degrade or transform the components of petroleum products. They are non-toxic, non-hazardous, biodegradable and environmentally friendly compounds which may be cost effectively produced under ex-situ conditions; in-situ production may be stimulated at the site of contamination and can be recovered and recycled. Their application in bioremediation processes may be more acceptable from a social point of view due to their naturally occurring property. Potential advantages of biosurfactants include their unusual structural diversity that may lead to unique properties, the possibility of cost effective production and their biodegradability. These properties make biosurfactants a promising choice for applications in enhancing hydrocarbon bioremediation. Biosurfactants have many other applications in various industries such as agriculture, medicine, petroleum, pharmaceutical and cosmetics.


Keywords: Bioavailability, biosurfactants, contamination, hydrophobic organic compounds

How to Cite

Samson Eruke, Okoro, and Akpabio Julius Udoh. 2014. “Potentials for Biosurfactant Enhanced Bioremediation of Hydrocarbon Contaminated Soil and Water–A Review”. Advances in Research 4 (1):1-14. https://doi.org/10.9734/AIR/2015/11933.


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