Environmental biotechnology (EB) can play a positive and an important role in detoxifying and eliminating pollutants, and cleaning up the contaminated sites of ecosystems, but the development of any EB is based largely on the scientific knowledge and results of (micro)biology and chemistry, and then application mainly by engineering and management. Biodegradation and bioremediation by definition are different in meaning and, as a result, they must be understood and treated differently. On the fundamental basis, the biochemical reactions and the biochemical degradation pathway of any targeted toxicant concerned are basic information before the degradability of the selective pollutant by a microorganism can be claimed. Bioremediation becomes feasible for implementation with the knowledge of the biochemical reactions by the biological agent coupling with the engineering and management to achieve a successful attempt at a site. Though the degradability by a microorganism can be achieved in laboratory condition, the cleaning up of the pollutant at any site needs additional information and knowledge of the physical, chemical and ecological characteristics of the site to allow any success to be achieved. The broad EB can include utilization of pure and selective microorganisms, the biochemical reactions by either pure or mixed culture, enzymes, and metabolic products of microorganisms. In addition, microorganisms may also work in the form of biofilm to carry out the function to detoxify the toxic environmental chemicals. In addition to microorganisms, plants can play an important role in phytoremediation. Overall, EB needs at least three steps to prove its effectiveness from concept testing in laboratory, establishment of the mechanisms involved, workability in complex system and ecosystems, and lastly the implementation and practice on site. A laboratory success on degradation cannot be quickly and simply treated as a claim of EB for bioremediation for application.
- Genetic engineering