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Published: 7 August 2012  
Related category(ies):
Environment  |  Research policy


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ANAMMOX – Biotechnology at the service of wastewater treatment

As water resources are under severe pressure, there is a need to develop smart sustainable systems to clean wastewaters for instance.
The project conducted by ERC grantee Michael Jetten is about studying the diversity and activity of micro-organisms in their natural environment, their mutual interactions and their survival and adaptation strategies.

© Fotolia, 2012

His research focuses on the microbial ecology of freshwater systems and in particular on the microbial processes at the very interface between the sediment and the water column.

Researchers have isolated the microbes responsible for the anammox reaction (i.e. the removal of ammonium in environments lacking oxygen like e.g. wastewater) in freshwater sediments in Dutch drainage ditches and studied their complete genome.

The anammox are unique microbes with many unusual properties. Understanding their metabolism and ecological importance is essential. By using those lab-grown bacteria, the research's team investigated how the bacteria broke down nitrites, using oxygen to consume the ammonium and releasing nitrogen that is harmless for the environment.

The team is now trying to understand which enzyme is produced that enables oxygen production.

This discovery may not only improve our understanding of the biogeochemical nitrogen cycle but also pave the way for developing cheaper technology with lower CO2 emissions to clean wastewater plants for instance.

Project details

  • Participants: The Netherlands
  • FP7 Proj. N° 232937
  • Total costs: € 2 500 000
  • EU contribution:€ 2 500 000
  • Duration: from: Jan. 2008 to: Dec. 2013

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