Microorganisms to the rescue in environmental catastrophes Open Classroom New challenges of biology: from Neanderthals to the Prestige

Microorganisms to the rescue in environmental catastrophes

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Fernando Rojo

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  1. Fernando Rojo

    Doctor en Ciencias (Bioquímica y Biología Molecular) por la U.A.M., es profesor honorario de dicho departamento y miembro de la Sociedad Española de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular (SEB), de la Sociedad Española de Biotecnología (SEBIOT) y de la Sociedad Americana de Microbiología (ASM). Participa en numerosos proyectos de I+D a nivel nacional e internacional. Asímismo ha colaborado con el Instituto de Bioquímica de la Universidad de Viena y con el departamento de Bioquímica Médica de la Universidad de Ginebra. Tiene más de 100 publicaciones o documentos científico-técnicos, sin contar las numerosas contribuciones a Congresos. Es miembro de prestigiosas sociedades científicas.

The bacteria have been capable of colonizing all kind of environments, even the most extreme. The bacterial biology is optimized to evolve continuously and adapt to new conditions. This is why bacteria play a fundamental role in the recycling of organic material and the maintenance of the biological cycles, and thus, in the preservation of the environment. Nevertheless, there are may components both natural and synthetic, that the bacteria struggle to assimilate.

The analysis of the biodegradable capacity of the bacteria, and of their response to the presence of toxic contaminants, give us very valuable information  about how to face contamination problems and facilitate the labour of the microorganisms to mitigate the problem. Currently, a great number of microorganisms capable of degrading different types of contaminants have been isolated and characterized. And yet, it seems clear that although they may be present in a ubiquitous way in many different habitats, there are a series of factors that help several contaminants to not be degraded correctly and become accumulated, causing serious issues. The techniques of bioremediation pretend accelerating and forcing these processes of biodegradation, although in the practice their effectiveness is variable. In the conference we will use the case of the petroleum to explain these aspects.