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Biological removal of environmental pollutants


The department has a high focus on research into chemical and biological conversion of substances. We have a particular focus on remedying man-made pollution and their effects on the original life of water and soil. It is an area of ​​increasing importance as a result of the ever-increasing development of new chemicals, the growing size of the population and the increasing pressure on welfare and water resources of the welfare. The research area has the potential to attract national and international funding as well as business cooperation.
At the department we work with themes such as:

  • Survey of groundwater resources
  • Analysis of pollutants in the groundwater, as well as microbial degradation of these substances and biotechnological solutions for the treatment of drinking water.
  • The role of microbial communities in the degradation of pollutants in wastewater, soil, groundwater and drinking water
    • Illumination of individual microbial species degradation potential
    • Isolation of breakdown bacteria or fungi for use in e.g. bioremediation
    • Microbial degradation pathways, enzymatic "tools" and genes.
  • Wastewater treatment - below
    • Degradation of micro-pollutants
    • Removal of N and P from drainage water
    • Restoration of lakes and streams.

The unique collaboration between the various research areas at Aarhus University creates a strong foundation for new knowledge, scientific breakthroughs and solutions to important societal challenges.


Removal of environmental pollutants by biological processesa research area in focus at the Department of Environmental Science (a "Strategic Growth Area", SGA)

Removal of environmental pollutants by metabolic processes deals with the biochemical challenges of degradation of environmental pollutants. Chemical properties, biochemical reactions of pollutants as well as microbial genetics and ecology influencing the degradation are the main focuses. Processes in the environmental compartments soil, ground-/drinking water as well as waste water are of specific interest. Biotechnological solutions, e.g. water treatment or soil bioremediation, are investigated with the aim to ensure quality and safety of fundamental environmental goods and services – hereunder clean water and fertile soil.

Main research areas

  • Degradation of xenobiotics by bacteria and fungi (single organisms, consortia or natural communities).
  • Water, leachate, sludge and soil treatment.
  • Microbial degradation in soil, water and in the atmosphere. Including identification of degradation products and the further degradation of these
  • Formation of metabolites vs mineralisation
  • Biotechnological solutions including optimization of degradation and degrader organisms e.g. by studying microbial interactions and degrader genes.
  • Ecology of degraders incl. co-metabolism vs catabolism.