Detoxification and Removal of Hexavalent Chromium in Aquatic Systems: Applications of Bioremediation


  • A.M.K.C.B. Aththanayake Orcid
  • I.V.N. Rathnayake Orcid
  • M.P. Deeyamulla Orcid


Chromium is a transition metal with a wide range of applications in leather tanning, textile, electroplating, stainless steel production, inorganic chemical production and wood preservation industries due to yellow colouration, corrosion resistance, higher melting-point and crystalline structure with raging of oxidation states from 0 to +6. Trivalent and hexavalent chromium are the most abundant forms of chromium discharged into the aquatic environment by industries. It has been reported that hexavalent chromium is highly toxic than trivalent chromium due to the higher solubility, mobility and tendency to accumulate in higher trophic levels, which, therefore, become bioavailable and causes carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic effects on most microorganisms and animals, growth inhibition, morphological and physiological changes and yield reductions in plants. Therefore, it is essential to detoxify the above hazardous pollutants up to permissible limits, which local and international authorities have legislated concerning its threat towards biotic components. Hexavalent chromium detoxification is possible to achieve using three methods i.e. physical, chemical and biological methods. These remediation processes can eliminate highly toxic hexavalent chromium or transform it into a less toxic form of trivalent chromium, completely or partially by adsorption and reduction. Biological remediation is considered a cost-effective and ecofriendly method compared to physical and chemical remediation. Further, many biological agents have been identified as agents that can tolerate the hexavalent chromium toxicity up to certain higher levels depending on the internal and external environmental factors, indicating different metal tolerance mechanisms that are assumed to be applied in metal remediation aspects. According to the testimonies of novel bioremediation studies, some hexavalent chromium tolerant organisms such as plants, bacteria, unicellular and multicellular fungi and algae are promising eco-friendly alternatives in detoxification and hexavalent chromium removal perspective. This article reviews the bioremediation approaches available for hexavalent chromium detoxification and removal and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of current bioremediation methods.