Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), commonly known as dioxins (PCDD/Fs), are toxic environmental pollutants formed from various sources. Elimination of these pollutants from the environment is a difficult task due to their persistent and ubiquitous nature. Removal of dioxins by biological degradation (biodegradation) is considered a feasible method as an alternative to other expensive physicochemical approaches. Biodegradation of dioxins has been extensively studied in several microorganisms, and details concerning biodiversity, biodegradation, biochemistry and molecular biology of this process have accumulated during the last three decades. There are several microbial mechanisms responsible for biodegradation of dioxins, including oxidative degradation by dioxygenase-containing aerobic bacteria, bacterial and fungal cytochrome P-450, fungal lignolytic enzymes, reductive dechlorination by anaerobic bacteria, and direct ether ring cleavage by fungi containing etherase-like enzymes. Many attempts have been made to bioremediate PCDD/Fs using this basic knowledge of microbial dioxin degradation. This review emphasizes the present knowledge and recent advancements in the microbial biotransformation, biodegradation and bioremediation of dioxins.

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