Industrialization has led to introduction of heavy metals in the environment. Heavy metals are known to persist in the environment and become a risk for organisms. Micro-organisms are present in industrial effluents. They have adopted different strategies to cope up with the harmful effects of these metals. These strategies can be metabolism dependent or independent. One such strategy is biosorption which is binding of metal ions with metal binding proteins present on the cell wall. Biosorption is exhibited by bacteria, algae, fungi and yeasts. Not only living organisms, but also residuals of dead bodies of microorganisms shows biosorbent properties like agricultural wastes including husk, seeds, peels and stalks of different crops. Different factors affect the rate of biosorption which includes temperature, pH, nature of biosorbents, surface area to volume ratio, concentration of biomass, initial metal ion concentration and metal affinity to biosorbent. Various models including Freundlich model and Langmuir model can be used to describe biosorption. Recovery of biosorbed metals can be done using agents like thiosulfate, mineral acids and organic acids. Choice of desorption agent should be carefully selected to prevent alteration of physical properties of a biosorbent.
Part of the book: Biosorption