SYSTEMS – Microbial interactions with the biofilter environment
WP3 will combine new ecological approaches with molecular techniques and mathematical guidance to predict ecosystem function and failure and to manage the biofilters with mixed microbial communities to ensure long-lasting performance. A second goal is a practical test of whether we can manage and steer the microbial communities to render them (i) more resistant towards stress and (ii) better able to accept the introduction of new species, which is important for bioaugmentation purposes. This research be carried out in close collaboration with WP4.
WP 3 will also exploit the potential of cometabolic processes to remediate water resources abandoned or in danger of being abandoned due to the presence of low concentrations of micropollutants (figure). The potential for cometabolic transformation of micropollutants in water treatment systems fed water contaminated with methane or ammonium will be studied. In real water treatment systems, a number of microbial functions coexist. Interactions between methane and ammonium oxidisers and the microbial community in general will be studied by means of molecular fingerprinting techniques. Knowledge about these interactions will enable us to develop methods by which the processes can be steered to increase micropollutant removal and prevent adverse effects such as accumulation of nitrite or metabolites. Cometabolic processes are expected to have a great potential in relation to removal of pharmaceuticals and other micropollutants for which bacterial degraders are not available. In order to improve the reliability and stability of cometabolic processes we will examine the effects on contaminant removal of adding methane- or ammonia-oxidising bacteria to sand filters/barriers.
The principle of metabolic and cometabolic processes being exploited within BIOTREAT. A strategy for exploiting metabolic degradation pathways will be used to target water pollutions cases where metabolically degrading bacteria are available, while a strategy using cometabolic processes will target pollutants for which suitable degrading bacteria have not yet been described.