Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.102, No.3, 1067-1074, 2018
Exploring anaerobic environments for cyanide and cyano-derivatives microbial degradation
Cyanide is one of the most toxic chemicals for living organisms described so far. Its toxicity is mainly based on the high affinity that cyanide presents toward metals, provoking inhibition of essential metalloenzymes. Cyanide and its cyano-derivatives are produced in a large scale by many industrial activities related to recovering of precious metals in mining and jewelry, coke production, steel hardening, synthesis of organic chemicals, and food processing industries. As consequence, cyanide-containing wastes are accumulated in the environment becoming a risk to human health and ecosystems. Cyanide and related compounds, like nitriles and thiocyanate, are degraded aerobically by numerous bacteria, and therefore, biodegradation has been offered as a clean and cheap strategy to deal with these industrial wastes. Anaerobic biological treatments are often preferred options for wastewater biodegradation. However, at present very little is known about anaerobic degradation of these hazardous compounds. This review is focused on microbial degradation of cyanide and related compounds under anaerobiosis, exploring their potential application in bioremediation of industrial cyanide-containing wastes.