Environment means surroundings. It consists of both abiotic and biotic factors of the medium where an organism occurs.
These factors interact among themselves and with the organism and influence the adaptability of the organism. Biotechnology has shown explosive growth over the past three decades and microorganisms have been exploited in a number of ways.
It may be defined as the industrial exploitation of biological systems or processes and it is largely based upon the expertise of biological systems in recognition and catalysis (Higgins, 1985).
Man has used biotechnology for thousands of years in such activities as wine-making, brewing, bread- making, food preservation and processing by fermentation (e.g., vinegar, cheese) and the manufacture of soap from fats, primitive medications and waste treatment. But recent developments in biotechnology- have been made after the discovery of recombinant DNA technology.
And scientists all over the world have been attempting the application of biotechnology in agriculture, materials (e.g. mineral extraction), medicine (e.g. use of microbes and enzymes in manufacture of complex drugs and new antibiotics), food (e.g., new methods of food preservation, food additives and use of enzymes in food processing), energy (e.g., use of biogas and production of ethanol as a liquid fuel), chemicals (e.g. organic acids and use of enzymes in detergents) and environment (e.g. waste treatment techniques and use of microbes for xenobiotic degradation).
The maintenance of environmental quality has been a continuing problem since the dawn of civilization. Environmental biotechnology deals with the use of biotechnology to solve the major environmental problems. For many years environmental biotechnology has been most commonly linked with waste treatment technology and bioremediation. But now there is a paradigm shift in environmental biotechnology and there is a move from bioremediation focus to pollution abatement and pollution prevention to environmental protection and sustainability.
Environmental sustainability is operationally defined as utilization and management of natural resources in a manner that is consistent with their steady-state availability for future generations (Sayler, 1997). It is expected that microbial and genetic biodiversity is going to play an ever increasing role in the development of environmental biotechnology for human welfare. As on date the most reliable strategy is the use of eco-friendly microbes for biodegradation, which is generally accepted as an environmentally sound and economically feasible protocol for the treatment of hazardous wastes and effluents (Lalithakuman. 2003).