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The Use Of Molecular Techniques To Characterize The Microbial Communities In Contaminated Soil And Water.

S. Malik, M. Beer, M. Megharaj, R. Naidu
Published 2008 · Biology, Medicine

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Traditionally, the identification and characterization of microbial communities in contaminated soil and water has previously been limited to those microorganisms that are culturable. The application of molecular techniques to study microbial populations at contaminated sites without the need for culturing has led to the discovery of unique and previously unrecognized microorganisms as well as complex microbial diversity in contaminated soil and water which shows an exciting opportunity for bioremediation strategies. Nucleic acid extraction from contaminated sites and their subsequent amplification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has proved extremely useful in assessing the changes in microbial community structure by several microbial community profiling techniques. This review examines the current application of molecular techniques for the characterization of microbial communities in contaminated soil and water. Techniques that identify and quantify microbial population and catabolic genes involved in biodegradation are examined. In addition, methods that directly link microbial phylogeny to its ecological function at contaminated sites as well as high throughput methods for complex microbial community studies are discussed.
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