What Are The Different Types Of Biodegradation?


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Biodegradation is basically the process whereby micro-organisms reduce organic pollutants into smaller chemical compounds. Al biodegradable matter is usually organic, and is generally derivatives of plant and animal matter. The micro-organisms work on such matter and convert them to smaller compounds by enzymatic or metabolic processes. Such a process usually involves a reduction-oxidation or redox reaction.
There are basically two generalized categories of biodegradation. The first category is called mineralization, also referred to as biomineralization. Mineralization is the process by which micro-organisms work on organic compounds and by a chemical process, reduce them to inorganic material such as water, carbon dioxide, and also possibly other such inorganic compounds. Mineralization involves total degradation of the organic matter.

The second category is called biotransformation. Biotransformation essentially differs from mineralization in that the organic matter is not degraded totally. While a part of it is degraded, another part is converted into other smaller chain organic compounds.

This raises two possibilities – the converted smaller chain organic compounds may be either toxic or non toxic. In the case of the pesticide dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane (DDT), the biotransformation yields an even more toxic compound. Another example of biotransformation is the fermentation process, in which sugar, a long chain organic compound, is transformed into ethanol.

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