A ABIOTIC: Not biotic or living. ACIDOPHILE: Organism that grows best under acid conditions (down to a pH of 1). ADAPTATION: Change in an organism or population of organisms through which they become more suited to the prevailing environment. Adaptation can be genetic and/or physiological. AEROBE: An organism that can grow in the presence of air. AEROBIC: An environment that has a partial pressure of oxygen similar to normal atmospheric conditions. ALKALOPHILE: Organism that grows best under alkaline conditions (up to a pH of 10.5). ANAEROBIC: An environment without oxygen. ANAEROBE: An organism that grows in the absence of oxygen or air. ANAEROBIC RESPIRATION: (In some bacteria) Use of inorganic electron acceptors other than oxygen as terminal electron acceptors for energy yielding oxidative metabolism. NITRATE RESPIRATION is an example of anaerobic respiration. ANOXIC: Literally "without oxygen." An adjective describing a habitat devoid of oxygen. ANTHROPOGENIC: Derived from human activities. AUTOTROPH: An organism that uses carbon dioxide as its source of carbon for growth. (Compare with HETEROTROPH.) B BACTERIA: A group of diverse and ubiquitous prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms. BIOACCUMULATION: Intracellular accumulation of environmental pollutants such as heavy metals by living organisms. BIOAUGMENTATION: The addition to the environment of microorganisms that can metabolize and grow on specific organic compounds. BIOAVAILABILITY: The availability of chemicals to potentially biodegradative microorganisms. BIOCHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND: (BOD) The requirement for molecular oxygen by microbes during oxidation of biological substances in sewage. The BOD test measures the oxygen consumed (in mg/L) over 5 days at 20 degrees C. BIODEGRADATION: The breakdown of organic substances by microorganisms. BIOFILTER: Apparatus that biodegrades volatile organic compounds in air by passing the air through media containing biodegrading microbes. BIOMASS: The amount of living matter present in a particular habitat. BIOREMEDIATION: The process by which living organisms act to degrade or transform hazardous organic contaminants. BIOSTIMULATION: A process that increases activity of microorganisms biodegrading contaminants. For example, addition of nutrients, oxygen, or other electron donors and acceptors. BIOTIC: Living. BIOTRANSFORMATION: Alteration of the structure of a compound by a living organism or enzyme. BIOVENTING: The process of supplying oxygen in situ to oxygen deprived soil microbes by forcing air through unsaturated contaminated soil at low flow rates. This stimulates biodegradation and minimizes stripping volatiles into the atmosphere. Frequently used to remediate soil under structures since it is relatively non-invasive. BOD: See BIOCHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND. BROWNFIELD: An abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial or commercial facility where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by a real or perceived environmental contamination. BTEX: Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes. BTXE: See BTEX. C CHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND: The amount of oxygen in milligrams per liter to oxidize both organic and oxidizable inorganic compounds. COD: See CHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND. COMETABOLISM: The biodegradation of a pollutant by an organism while using some other compound(s) for growth and energy. There is little or no benefit to the biodegrading organism, the pollutant just happens to be affected by the growth of the cometabolizing organism. CONSORTIUM: Two or more members of a natural assemblage in which each organism benefits from the other. The group may collectively carryout some process that no single member can accomplish on its own. CREOSOTE: An antifungal wood preservative used frequently to treat telephone poles and railroad ties. Creosote consists of coal tar distillation products, including PHENOLS and PAHs. D DCE: Dichloroethylene. DENITRIFICATION: The formation of gaseous nitrogen and/or oxides of nitrogen from nitrate or nitrite by some bacteria during ANAEROBIC RESPIRATION. Denitrification only occurs in ANAEROBIC or MICROAEROPHILIC conditions. It can sometimes be used to remove nitrate or nitrite from liquid wastes. DNAPL: See NAPL. E ELECTRON ACCEPTOR: Small inorganic or organic compound that is reduced to complete an electron transport chain. Compound that is reduced in a metabolic redox reaction. ELECTRON DONOR: Small inorganic or organic compound that is oxidized to initiate an electron transport chain. Compound from which electrons are derived in a metabolic redox reaction. ENHANCED RHIZOSPHERE BIODEGRADATION: Enhanced biodegradation of contaminants near plant roots where compounds exuded by the roots increase microbial biodegradation activity. Other plant processes such as water uptake by the plant roots can enhance biodegradation by drawing contaminants to the root zone. ENRICHMENT: Culture in a liquid medium that results in the increase of the population of an organism relative to others. The liquid culture frequently contains substances that encourage the growth of the selected organism (Such as the chemical pollutant and mineral nutrients.) ENZYMES: Proteins that act as biological catalysts. EUTROPHICATION: The enrichment of natural waters with inorganic material especially nitrogen and phosphorous such that they support excessive growth of plants and algae. (Compare with OLIGOTROPHIC.) EX SITU: Out of the original position (Excavated). F FACULTATIVE ORGANISM: Organism that can carry out both options of a mutually exclusive process (e.g., aerobic and anaerobic metabolism). FERMENTATION: An energy yielding metabolism that involves a series of oxidation-reduction reactions in which the substrate and terminal electron acceptor are organic compounds. Fermentation occurs in a wide variety of bacteria and fungi. FUNGI: A group of diverse and widespread unicellular and multicellular eukaryotic organisms. Some species are important in the decomposition of plant litter. G H HALOPHILIC: Organisms whose requirement for salt exceeds that of other organisms. HETEROTROPH: Any organism that requires exogenous organic material for growth and reproduction. I IN SITU: In place, without excavation. INOCULUM: Material used to introduce a microorganism into a suitable situation for growth. ISOENZYME: An enzyme that occurs in more than one form in a given species. Sometimes called an isozyme. J K L LNAPL: See NAPL. LIGNIN: A complex polymer that occurs in woody material of higher plants. It is highly resistant to chemical and enzymatic degradation. The WHITE ROT FUNGI are known for their lignin degrading capability. M MEDIUM: Any material that supports growth of an organism. MESOPHILE: An organism whose optimum growth range is 20-45 degrees C. (Compare with THERMOPHILE and PSYCHROPHILE.) METHANOTROPH: Aerobic bacteria that can use methane as a sole source of carbon. METHANE-PRODUCING BACTERIA: See METHANOGEN. METHANOGEN: Bacteria that anaerobicly oxidize hydrogen to methane and water using carbon dioxide as the electron acceptor. These occur in anaerobic muds, ponds, and sewage sludge. MICROAEROPHILIC: An environment that is low in oxygen but is not anaerobic. MICROBE: microorganism. MICROCOSM: A community or other unit that is representative of a larger unity. MICROFLORA: All of the microorganisms associated with location or environment. MICRONUTRIENT: Chemical element necessary for growth found in small amounts, usually < 100 mg kg-1 in a plant. These elements consist of B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, and Zn. MICROORGANISMS: Includes bacteria, algae, fungi, and viruses. MINERALIZATION: The breakdown of organic matter to inorganic materials (such as carbon dioxide and water) by bacteria and fungi. MINIMAL MEDIUM: Culture medium that lacks certain growth factors so that it will support growth of only certain types of microorganisms (These are often used for ENRICHMENT CULTURES). MOST PROBABLE NUMBER: A method for estimating the concentration of microorganisms in a sample. A given volume of liquid or suspension is inoculated into each of (typically) 5 tubes containing growth media. Decreasing volumes are inoculated into successive sets of 5 tubes. After an incubation period the tubes are scored for growth or lack of growth. Those tubes in which growth occurred are assumed to have contained at least one VIABLE organism in the inoculant. The concentration of VIABLE microorganisms in the original liquid or suspension is calculated using a statistical table. MPN: See MOST PROBABLE NUMBER. MYCELIUM: (plural, mycelia)- Mass of hyphae that form the vegetative body of many fungal organisms. MYCOBACTERIUM: A genus of aerobic bacteria found in soil and water that are capable of biodegrading multi-ring compounds such as PAHs. MYCORRHIZA: A mutually beneficial association between a fungus and the root of a plant. These occur in a wide range of plants including trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. N NAPL: Non-aqueous phase liquid. This can be lighter than water (LNAPL), or more dense than water (DNAPL). NITRATE RESPIRATION: (dissimilatory nitrate reduction) The use of nitrate as a terminal electron acceptor for ANAEROBIC RESPIRATION. This process occurs under ANAEROBIC or MICROAEROPHILIC conditions. Not all bacteria are capable of this form of metabolism and the nitrate may not be reduced completely to nitrogen gas (stopping at nitrite, for example). When the nitrate is reduced to gaseous forms the process is called DENITRIFICATION. This can sometimes be used to remove nitrate or nitrite from liquid wastes. NITRIFICATION: The oxidation of ammonia to nitrite and then nitrate by bacterial species such as Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter, respectively. This process is strictly aerobic. O OBLIGATE: Any state or condition that is an essential attribute of a given organism. For example an obligate AEROBE can grow only under aerobic conditions. OLIGOTROPHIC: Bodies of water poor in those nutrients that support growth of aerobic photosynthetic organisms. (Compare with EUTROPHICATION). ORGANIC PUMP: Uptake of large quantities of water by plant (trees) roots and translocation into the atmosphere to reduce a flow of water. Used to keep contaminated groundwater from reaching a body of water, or to keep surface water from seeping into a capped landfill and forming leachate. OXIDASE: An enzyme that catalyses a reaction in which electrons are removed from a substrate and donated directly to molecular oxygen. OXYGENASE: An enzyme that catalyses a reaction in which one (monooxygenase) or both (dioxygenase) atoms of molecular oxygen are incorporated into a molecule of substrate. Oxygenases catalyze the first step in degradation of strait-chained and aromatic hydrocarbons. P PATHOGEN: An organism capable of causing disease. PAH: Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon. Multi-ring compounds found in fuels, oils, and CREOSOTE. These are also common combustion products. PCBs: Polychlorinated biphenyls. PCE: (Perchloroethylene): Tetrachloroethylene. PCP: Pentachlorophenol. PHENOL: Carbolic acid (C6H5OH). Phenols and substituted phenols are used as antimicrobial agents in high concentrations. PHYTOACCUMULATION: See PHYTOEXTRACTION. PHYTODEGRADATION: A process in which plants are able to degrade (break down) organic pollutants through their metabolic processes. PHYTOEXTRACTION: Use of plants to extract contaminants (such as metals) from the environment (especially soil). When the plants are saturated with contaminants they are harvested. PHYTOMINING: Use of plants to extract inorganic substances of economic value (precious metals, etc.) PHYTOREMEDIATION: Use of plants to remediate contaminated soil or groundwater. PHYTOSTABILIZATION: Use of soil amendments and plants to reduce bioavailability and offsite migration of contaminants. PHYTOVOLATILIZATION: Use of plants to volatilize contaminants (solvents, etc.) from soil or water. PLASMID: Extra DNA in a cell that is usually dispensable, but may confer an advantage to the cell, such as the ability to biodegrade certain compounds or resistance to antibiotics. PSYCHROPHILE: An organism with an optimum growth temperature less than 20 degrees C. Q R RECALCITRANT: Resistant to biodegradation. REDOX POTENTIAL: The oxidation-reduction potential of an environment. Measures the tendency of the environment to be reducing (donate electrons) or oxidizing (accept electrons). REDUCTIVE DECHLORINATION: Removal of Cl as Cl- from an organic compound by reducing the carbon atom from C-Cl to C-H. RESPIRATION: Energy yielding metabolism in which oxygen is the terminal electron acceptor for substrate oxidation. RHIZOFILTRATION: Uptake of contaminants by the roots of plants immersed in water. When the roots are saturated with contaminants they are harvested. RHIZOPLANE: The surface of plant roots. RHIZOSPHERE: Soil in the area surrounding plant roots that is influenced by the plant root. Typically a few millimeters or at most centimeters from the plant root. Important because this area is higher in nutrients and thus has a higher and more active microbial population. S SIDEROCHROMES: Compounds produced by microorganisms that are involved with the uptake of iron by those microorganisms. SIDEROPHORES: See siderochromes. SPORES: (bacterial endospores) A metabolically dormant state of bacteria in which they are more resistant to heat, chemicals, etc. (Compare with VEGETATIVE.) SURFACTANT: A natural or synthetic chemical that promotes the wetting, solubilization, and emulsification of various types of organic chemicals. T TCE: Trichloroethylene. THERMOPHILE: Any organism that has an optimum growth temperature above 45 degrees C. TPH: Total petroleum hydrocarbons. U V VADOSE ZONE: Unsaturated zone of soil above the groundwater, extending from the bottom of the capillary fringe all the way to the soil surface. VC: Vinyl chloride. VEGETATIVE: Cells with an active metabolism. Not dormant or SPORES. VIABLE: Living, or capable of growth. W WILD TYPE-STRAIN: Strain of an organism isolated from nature. The usual or native form of an organism as opposed to a mutant strain. WINOGRADSKY COLUMN: Glass column with an anaerobic lower zone and an aerobic upper zone, which allows growth of microorganisms under conditions similar to those found in nutrient-rich water and sediment. WEATHERING: All physical and chemical changes produced by atmospheric agents. WHITE ROT FUNGI: Fungi that decompose all components of wood. Important because they produce enzymes that are capable of acting on and biodegrading a wide variety of compounds, including many pollutants. X XENOBIOTIC: Compound foreign to biological systems. Often refers to human-made compounds that are resistant or recalcitrant to biodegradation and decomposition. XEROPHILE: Organism adapted to grow at low water potential, i.e., very dry habitats. Y Z 1-3-98
Environmental Glossary: Extensive list of terms including many acronyms.
Water Quality Association Glossary of Terms: An excellent listing of water quality terms.
Air Quality Glossary: Lists terms related to air pollution including some acronyms and legal /regulatory definitions.
Glossary of Soil Microbiology Terms: In addition to soil microbiology terms there are many molecular biology, biochemical ,and some soil science terms.
Phytoremediation Bibliography: Over 800 citations that include peer reviewed journal articles, newspaper stories, presentations and posters from conferences, and book chapters.
Bioremediation Discussion Group Home Page: An e-mail discussion group. Check the excellent list of links, documents, and discussion archives. You can join the Group if you so desire.
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