Despite the fact that fungi are biochemically and ecologically suited to the degradation of a range of hazardous environmental chemicals, they have rarely been exploited for bioremediation. Here, Harms and colleagues describe the features that make fungi suitable for bioremediation and discuss their potential applications in this field.
Applied and Industrial Microbiology
Fermentation processes used in the ancient world to make wine and bread demonstrate how applied microbiology is intertwined with human history. In the modern era, the potential applications for microorganisms and their products are vast and include the generation of high-value products such as drugs, chemicals, fuels and even electricity. Furthermore, recent advances in systems biology and synthetic biology now make it possible to engineer desirable characteristics in a microorganism, allowing them to be tailored to a specific task. In this series of articles, Nature Reviews Microbiology explores the latest developments in the field of applied and industrial microbiology.
Poor patient compliance and the spread of drug-resistant strains pose serious threats to anti-tuberculosis treatment regimens. In this Innovation article, Griffiths et al. review the potential advantages of using biodegradable nanoparticles as delivery systems for anti-tuberculosis drugs and vaccines.
Electrical current can be used to drive microbial metabolism, opening the door to a range of applications, including the electricity-driven synthesis of chemical compounds. Here, Rabaey and Rozendal introduce the principle of microbial electrosynthesis and discuss the associated challenges and opportunities.
Demand for renewable alternatives to petrochemical-based products is increasing. In this Review, Bernd Rehm describes how a better understanding of in vivo bacterial biopolymer biosynthesis is enabling the production of tailor-made renewable biopolymers with a diverse range of material properties.
Despite the great promise of bacterial bioreporters in the laboratory, their uptake for commercial use has been limited. In this Review, van der Meer and Belkin describe the current design of bacterial bioreporters and discuss how integrating synthetic microbiology and microengineering will increase bioreporter use in the field.