Einvironmental Biotechnology. Graphic: Cast GmbH & Co. KG on behalf of UFZ

Department of Environmental Biotechnology


The department investigates microbe-catalysed processes in natural and technical environments and characterizes their molecular basis. By use of systems-based approaches we search for responsible organisms, enzymes, and encoding genes in soils and sediments as well as in wastewater and (constructed) wetlands. We look at the transformation of environmental chemicals such as solvents, pesticides, plastics, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals but also on the formation and degradation of natural compounds e. g. soil organic matter. We develop tools to control and model such processes and provide management options for end users and regulators.


Major research topics are:

  • Fate of chemicals, pathogens and antibiotic resistance in water, soil, and sediments
  • Microbial process analyses using isotope tracer compounds, determination of mass balances, molecular biology, biochemistry, modelling, and reactor design, incl. development of a methodological platform for molecular analysis of enzymatic functions at low abundances
  • Transformation of micropollutants (including antibiotics) in waste water and constructed wetlands
  • Anaerobic oxidation of ammonium in wastewater
  • Degradation of plastics – bacteria, enzymes, products
  • Respiration with halogenated compounds (solvents, pesticides, X-ray contrast media); biochemical characterization of membrane-bound metalloprotein complexes
  • Evaluation of bacterial processes, strains, and enzymes for biotechnical applications