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Engineering niches of microbial activity for organic micropollutant biodegradation

  • 16 October, 2023
  • Wageningen University, Environmental Technology
  • Dr. N.B. Sutton
  • S.I. Quiton Tapia

Groundwater is an important source for drinking water production globally. The presence of organic micropollutants (OMPs) which find their origin in for example pesticides and pharmaceuticals, threatens this precious resource. Due to the wide variety in chemical properties and the small concentrations in which these pollutants are present, treatment is often challenging and expensive. Stimulating in-situ biodegradation of OMPs by the indigenous microbial community in groundwater aquifers, could serve as a viable method to reduce OMPs. Abiotic and biotic conditions influence the effectiveness of biodegradation. High oxygen levels and the addition of an organic carbon source enhance the overall effectiveness of this treatment method, resulting in higher removal efficiencies. However, even at low oxygen levels, biodegradation of OMPs takes place. This opens opportunities to combine OMP biodegradation with existing in-situ groundwater treatment techniques such as subsurface iron precipitation. The aim of this research is to explore both known and unknown opportunities to engineer niches of microbial activity for organic micropollutant biodegradation.


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