Microbiology & Ecotoxicity

The study of microbial communities and ecotoxicity is a central scientific thread underlying process and technology development within the wastewater sector. Research in this cluster will emphasize the properties of microbial structures, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and surface characteristics related to their overall function in the systems. Additionally, the research will develop a novel disinfection system and advance water treatment innovation by integrating hydrodynamic particle disruption with existing UV technology to improve microbial disinfection. The work specifically addresses differences in the properties of the microbial flocs and aggregates in relation to variable disinfection outcomes for particles from different systems. A major focus is to train and better prepare participating students to assess the biological impacts of contaminants present in municipal wastewater treatment streams and to address the environmental impacts in the receiving environment. The later aspect will achieved via the characterizing the ecological response of biological system to various effluent and treatment stream produced the participating network members.


Confocal laser scanning micrographs showing the spatial organization of nitrifying (ABO and NOB), denitrifying (DEN) and heterotrophic bacteria in biofilm biomass: 

a) FISH with probe EUB 338 specific to eubacteria (red), NEU and Nso1225 specific to ABO (green)  and NIT3 and Ntspa662 specific to NOB (aqua);
b) High magnification images of a showing ABO and NOB were present as micro-colonies that tended to cluster with others of the same group;
c) Hybridization with DEN124 and DEN67 identifying acetate-utilizing and methanol-utilizing denitrifies, respectively (yellow);
d) High magnification images of d showing denitrifies also present as micro-colonies.