Biotransformation is the chemical modification (or modifications) made by an organism on a chemical compound. If this modification ends in mineral compounds like CO2, NH4+, or H2O, the biotransformation is called mineralisation.

Biotransformation means chemical alteration of chemicals such as (but not limited to) nutrients, amino acids, toxins, and drugs in the body. It is also needed to render nonpolar compounds polar so that they are not reabsorbed in renal tubules and are excreted.


Drug metabolism

The metabolism of a drug or toxin in a body is an example of a biotransformation. The body typically deals with a foreign compound by making it more water-soluble, to increase the rate of its excretion through the urine. There are many different process that can occur; the pathways of drug metabolism can be divided into:

  • phase І
  • phase II

Drugs can undergo one of four potential biotransformations: Active Drug to Inactive Metabolite, Active Drug to Active Metabolite, Inactive Drug to Active Metabolite, Active Drug to Toxic Metabolite (biotoxification).

Phase I reaction

  • Includes oxidative, reductive, and hydrolytic reactions.
  • In these type of reactions, a polar group is either introduced or unmasked, so the drug molecule becomes more water-soluble and can be excreted.
  • Reactions are non-synthetic in nature and in general produce a more water-soluble and more-active metabolites.
  • The majority of metabolites are generated by a common hydroxylating enzyme system known as Cytochrome P450.

Phase II reaction

  • These reactions involve covalent attachment of small polar endogenous molecule such as glucuronic acid, sulfate, or glycine to form water-soluble compounds.
  • This is also known as a conjugation reaction.
  • The final compounds have a larger molecular weight.

Microbial biotransformation

Biotransformation of various pollutants is a sustainable way to clean up contaminated environments.[1] These bioremediation and biotransformation methods harness the naturally occurring, microbial catabolic diversity to degrade, transform or accumulate a huge range of compounds including hydrocarbons (e.g. oil), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pharmaceutical substances, radionuclides and metals. Major methodological breakthroughs in recent years have enabled detailed genomic, metagenomic, proteomic, bioinformatic and other high-throughput analyses of environmentally relevant microorganisms providing unprecedented insights into biotransformation and biodegradative pathways and the ability of organisms to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Biological processes play a major role in the removal of contaminants and pollutants from the environment. Some microorganisms possess an astonishing catabolic versatility to degrade or transform such compounds. New methodological breakthroughs in sequencing, genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and imaging are producing vast amounts of information. In the field of Environmental Microbiology, genome-based global studies open a new era providing unprecedented in silico views of metabolic and regulatory networks, as well as clues to the evolution of biochemical pathways relevant to biotransformation and to the molecular adaptation strategies to changing environmental conditions. Functional genomic and metagenomic approaches are increasing our understanding of the relative importance of different pathways and regulatory networks to carbon flux in particular environments and for particular compounds and they are accelerating the development of bioremediation technologies and biotransformation processes.[1] Also there is other approach of biotransformation called enzymatic biotransformation.

Oil Biodegradation

Petroleum oil is toxic for most life forms and episodic and chronic pollution of the environment by oil causes major ecological perturbations. Marine environments are especially vulnerable, since oil spills of coastal regions and the open sea are poorly containable and mitigation is difficult. In addition to pollution through human activities, millions of tons of petroleum enter the marine environment every year from natural seepages. Despite its toxicity, a considerable fraction of petroleum oil entering marine systems is eliminated by the hydrocarbon-degrading activities of microbial communities, in particular by a remarkable recently discovered group of specialists, the so-called hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria (HCB). Alcanivorax borkumensis, a paradigm of HCB and probably the most important global oil degrader, was the first to be subjected to a functional genomic analysis. This analysis has yielded important new insights into its capacity for (i) n-alkane degradation including metabolism, biosurfactant production and biofilm formation, (ii) scavenging of nutrients and cofactors in the oligotrophic marine environment, as well as (iii) coping with various habitat-specific stresses. The understanding thereby gained constitutes a significant advance in efforts towards the design of new knowledge-based strategies for the mitigation of ecological damage caused by oil pollution of marine habitats. HCB also have potential biotechnological applications in the areas of bioplastics and biocatalysis.[2]

Metabolic Engineering and Biocatalytic Applications

The study of the fate of persistent organic chemicals in the environment has revealed a large reservoir of enzymatic reactions with a large potential in preparative organic synthesis, which has already been exploited for a number of oxygenases on pilot and even on industrial scale. Novel catalysts can be obtained from metagenomic libraries and DNA sequence based approaches. Our increasing capabilities in adapting the catalysts to specific reactions and process requirements by rational and random mutagenesis broadens the scope for application in the fine chemical industry, but also in the field of biodegradation. In many cases, these catalysts need to be exploited in whole cell bioconversions or in fermentations, calling for system-wide approaches to understanding strain physiology and metabolism and rational approaches to the engineering of whole cells as they are increasingly put forward in the area of systems biotechnology and synthetic biology.[3]

See also

biotransformation is used to eliminate the drug from the body. some drugs can not be eliminated by the excretion for them biotransformation is required.


  1. ^ a b Diaz E (editor). (2008). Microbial Biodegradation: Genomics and Molecular Biology (1st ed. ed.). Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-17-2. 
  2. ^ Martins VAP et al. (2008). "Genomic Insights into Oil Biodegradation in Marine Systems". Microbial Biodegradation: Genomics and Molecular Biology. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-17-2. 
  3. ^ Meyer A and Panke S (2008). "Genomics in Metabolic Engineering and Biocatalytic Applications of the Pollutant Degradation Machinery". Microbial Biodegradation: Genomics and Molecular Biology. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-17-2. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • biotransformation — ● biotransformation nom féminin Processus de transformation dans l organisme de produits toxiques en composés détoxifiés …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • biotransformation — [bī΄ōtrans΄fər mā′shən] n. the metabolizing of some substance, esp. a drug, in the body …   English World dictionary

  • Biotransformation — Die Biotransformation ist ein Vorgang im Stoffwechsel von Lebewesen, bei welchen nicht ausscheidbare Stoffe durch chemische Prozesse in ausscheidbare Stoffe umgewandelt (transformiert) werden. Während des physiologischen Stoffwechsels des Körpers …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Biotransformation — Bi|o|trans|for|ma|ti|on [bio ; lat. transformare = umwandeln]: 1) die Durchführung von Hydroxylierungen, Dehydrierungen, Enantiomerentrennungen, Isomerisierungen u. a. chem. Reaktionen mit Hilfe mikrobieller oder immobilisierter Enzyme; 2) insbes …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Biotransformation — Le but de la biotransformation est d augmenter l hydrosolubilité du médicament et de hâter ainsi son élimination par l organisme. La biotransformation a donc un rôle de détoxification. En phytoremédiation la biotransformation consiste à diminuer… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • biotransformation — noun Date: 1955 the transformation of chemical compounds within a living system …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • biotransformation — (microbial transformation) The use of living organisms to modify substances that are not normally used for growth …   Dictionary of microbiology

  • biotransformation — /buy oh trans feuhr may sheuhn/, n. the series of chemical changes occurring in a compound, esp. a drug, as a result of enzymatic or other activity by a living organism. [1950 55; BIO + TRANSFORMATION] * * * …   Universalium

  • biotransformation — noun The changes (both chemical and physical) that occur to a substance (especially a drug) by the actions of enzymes within an organism …   Wiktionary

  • biotransformation — The conversion of molecules from one form to another within an organism, often associated with change (increase, decrease, or little change) in pharmacologic activity; refers especially to drugs and other xenobiotics. SYN: biodegradation. * * *… …   Medical dictionary

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