Open Access Articles- Top Results for Bioaugmentation


Bioaugmentation- the addition of bacterial cultures required to speed up the rate of degradation of a contaminant. In a place filled with contamination, microbial life usually finds it as a place to call home. The biological material that originated in this contaminated area is able to break down waste, but when the amount of waste overloads it needs help from a foreign form to increase performance in breaking down chemicals. Bioaugmentation develops the biological material in order to smoothly break down certain compounds. When a microbe is added to the contaminated area, they are able to improve the biological material’s capability to behave in a manner as to break down contamination that was already broken up before.

This enhanced treatment can lead to the cure of contamination in wastewater and agricultural improving biological waste treatment systems. Usually the steps involve studying the indigenous varieties present in the location to determine if biostimulation is possible. If the indigenous variety do not have the metabolic capability to perform the remediation process, exogenous varieties with such sophisticated pathways are introduced.

Bioaugmentation is commonly used in municipal wastewater treatment to restart activated sludge bioreactors. Most cultures available contain a research based consortium of Microbial cultures, containing all necessary microorganisms (B. licheniformis, B. thuringiensis, P. polymyxa, B. stearothermophilus, Penicillium sp., Aspergillus sp., Flavobacterium, Arthrobacter, Pseudomonas, Streptomyces, Saccharomyces, Triphoderma, etc.). Whereas activated sludge systems are generally based on microorganisms like bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, rotifers and fungi capable to degrade bio degradable organic matter.There are many positive outcomes from the use of bioaugmentation like the improvement in efficiency and speed of the process of breaking down substances and the reduction of toxic particles inhibiting an area. [1]

Soil Remediation

In order to withstand the harsh treatment that contamination causes, the best suited microbes are needed. Bioaugmentation is favored in a contaminated area because microorganisms that were originally in the environment did not accomplish their task during bioremediation when it came to breaking down chemicals in the contaminated soil. A potential reason for this can be because of the environmental stress inflicted on it by mutation rates. When microorganisms are added, they are more similar to the new contamination, meanwhile the older microorganism are similar to the older pollution and contamination. This however is just a factor, size is also a very important determinant. In order to see whether bioaugmentation should be implemented, environments should be looked at. Their lack of compliance and availability also has proven to be a factor of beneficial bioremediation. Although Bioaugmentation seems like a perfect solution to contaminated soil, it can have its disadvantages like decreasing biodegradation rate and also potentially clogging aquifers


Bioaugmentation of chlorinated solvents

At sites where soil and groundwater are contaminated with chlorinated ethenes, such as tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, bioaugmentation is used to ensure that the in situ microorganisms can completely degrade these contaminants to ethylene and chloride, which are non-toxic. Bioaugmentation is typically only applicable to bioremediation of chlorinated ethenes, although there are emerging cultures with the potential to biodegrade other compounds including BTEX, chloroethanes, chloromethanes, and MTBE. The first reported application of bioaugmentation for chlorinated ethenes was at Kelly Air Force Base, TX (Major et al., 2002). Bioaugmentation is typically performed in conjunction with the addition of electron donor (biostimulation) to achieve geochemical conditions in groundwater that favor the growth of the dechlorinating microorganisms in the bioaugmentation culture.

Niche Fitness

Including more microbes into an environment is also very beneficial to the speed of the cleanup duration. The interaction and competitions of two compounds influence the performance that a microorganism, original or new, could have. This can be tested by placing a soil that favors the new microbes into the area and then looking at the performance. The results will show if the new microorganism can perform well enough in that soil with other microorganisms. This helps to determine the correct amount of microbes and indigenous substances that are needed in order to optimize performance and create a co-metabolism. 'Bioaugmentation Cultures.


Coke Plant Wastewater in China

An example of how bioaugmentation has improved an environment, is in the coke plant wastewater in China. Coal in China is used as a main energy source and the contaminated water has many harmful toxic contaminants like ammonia, thiocyanate, phenolics and other organic compounds, such as mono- and polycyclic nitrogen-containing aromatics, oxygen and sulfur-containing heterocyclics and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Previous measures to treat this problem was an aerobic-anoxic-oxic system, solvent extractions, stream stripping, and biological treatment. What could make this process of cleaning this industrial contamination even better is using bioaugmentation with more advanced indigenous microbes or modified microbes to more effectively treat the wastewater. This Bioaugmentation has been reported to create an advanced removal of 3-chlorobenzoate, 4-methyl benzoate,toluene, phenol, and chlorinated solvents The anaerobic reactor was packed with semi-soft media, which were constructed by plastic ring and synthetic fiber string. The anoxic reactor is a completely mixed reactor while the oxic reactor is a hybrid bioreactor in which polyurethane foam carriers were added. Water from anoxic reactor, odic reactor and sedimentation tank were used and had mix-ins of different amount of old and developed microbes with .75 concentration and 28 degree Celsius. The rate of breaking down the contaminants all depended on the amount of concentration of the microbe at the time span measure. When the advanced microorganism were added, they formed a new microbial community where indigenous microorganisms could broke down the contaminants in the coke plant wastewater, such as pyridines, and phenolic compounds. When the indigenous heterotrophic microorganisms were added, they converted many large molecular compounds into smaller and simpler compounds, which could be taken from more biodegradable organic compounds. This proves that bioaugmentation could be used as a tool for the removal of unwanted compounds that are not properly removed by conventional biological treatment system. When bioaugmentation is combined with A1–A2–O system for the treatment of coke plant wastewater it is very powerful. [4]

Petroleum Cleanup

When concerning the petroleum industry, there is a large problem with how the oilfield drilling pit is disposed of. Many used to simply place dirt over the pit, but it is far more productive and economically beneficial to use bioaugmentation. With the use of advanced microbes, the drilling companies can actually treat the problem in the oilfield pit instead of transferring the waste around. When the environmental condition are correct, microbes are placed in the oilpit to break down hydrocarbons and alongside are other nutrients. The microbes that break up hydrogens are placed in because this is the contaminant that is most prominent in the oilpit. Before using these microbes there was a total petroleum hydrocarbon TPH level of 44,880 PPM, but after the method was taken upon in just 47 days the TPH lowered to a level of 10,000 PPM to 6,486 PPM. [5]

Failures and Potential Solutions

There have been many instances where bioaugmentation had deficiencies in its process. Examples include Goldstein et al., 1985; Stephenson and Stephenson, 1992; Bouchez et al., 2000; Vogel and Walter, 2001; Wagner-Döbler, 2003. Many of these problems occurred because the microbial ecology issues were not taken into consideration in order to map the performance of the bioaugmentation. It is very crucial to take note of the microbe’s ability to withstand the conditions in the community to be placed in. Many of the cases that have failed, unfortunately have not looked at their ability to survive, instead looked at their ability to break down compounds. In order to look at the microbe's ability to survive in a type of environment, strains of the contaminated environment are enriched. This is done while focusing on the target pollutant as the main source and the result demonstrates the ability to break down the pollutant. The problem however is that this model does not take into consideration the existing communities and the competitive stress the new microbe will have with them amongst all other worries. It is much better to identify the existing communities before looking at the strains needed to break down pollutants. What makes this method so beneficial is that better strains are being identified because scientists are knowledgeable of the type of community that lives in these contaminated environments. The difficult part is identifying specific traits that coincide with the microbe being introduced and ability to interact with the community. Upon choosing the correct strain you could get results where the microbe is able to outcompete indigenous communities. This demonstrates that although you can not accurately tailor a microbe for each environment, with a lot of research, many microbes can be identified as having the ability to survive in certain communities.



  1. ^ Huban, C.M. [Betz-Dearborn Inc., and R.D. [Sybron Chemicals Plowman, "Bioaugmentation: Put Microbes to Work.” Chemical Engineering 104.3", (1997): n. pag. Print.
  2. ^ Vogel, Timothy M., "Bioaugmentation as a soil bioremediation approach.", Current opinion in biotechnology 7.3 , (1996): 311-316
  3. ^ Vogel, Timothy M., "Bioaugmentation as a soil bioremediation approach.", Current opinion in biotechnology 7.3 , (1996): 311-316
  4. ^ Jianlong, Wang, et al., "Bioaugmentation as a tool to enhance the removal of refractory compound in coke plant wastewater", Process Biochemistry 38.5, (2002): 777-781.
  5. ^ Barber, T. P., "Bioaugmentation for the treatment of oilfield drilling waste.", PennWell Conferences and Exhibitions, Houston, TX (United States), 1997
  6. ^ Thompson, Ian P., et al., "Bioaugmentation for bioremediation: the challenge of strain selection.", Environmental Microbiology 7.7, (2005): 909-915.


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