Microbiology of Anaerobic Systems


Anaerobic microorganisms include the oldest life-forms on Earth and display the most manifold metabolic pathways and lifestyles that have ever arisen in evolution, for example, the various respiratory and fermentative forms of energy conservation, mechanisms of carbon fixation, or the syntrophic degradation pathways that enable life at the edge of the thermodynamic limit. Anaerobic microbial communities play essential roles in biogeochemical cycles, natural attenuation of contaminated sites, and various biotechnological processes, such as wastewater treatment, anaerobic digestion of organic waste and fermentative production of green chemicals.

The MicAS Group investigates the ecology and physiology of anaerobic microbial communities in natural and engineered ecosystems with the aim of utilizing the metabolic activities of anaerobic microbes for biotechnological applications as well as elucidating the ecophysiological role of not yet cultured microbes and their significance for ecosystem functions.

In engineered systems such as anaerobic digesters and anaerobic bioreactors, we develop strategies for process optimization. We aim to identify microbial parameters for process control and to explore novel feedstocks and microbial resources for the production of green chemicals and fuels from renewable resources. In environmental systems, we investigate the role of anaerobic microorganisms in biogeochemical cycles and in the degradation of organic pollutants.

  • Anaerobic biorefineries for the material and energetic use of biomass and organic residues
  • Microbial chain elongation and syngas fermentation for the production of biobased platform chemicals
  • Tapping microbial resources by isolating novel strains with interesting fermentation pathways
  • Metagenome-based analysis and modeling of metabolic networks in anaerobic consortia
  • Engineered microbial consortia for optimized anaerobic conversion of lignocellulose to medium-chain carboxylates
  • Mitigating propionate and butyrate inhibition in anaerobic digestion by promoting direct interspecies electron transfer
  • Single cell protein from hydrogenotrophic bacteria (Power-to-Protein)
  • Biotransformation of antibiotics and spread of antibiotic resistance genes in agricultural biogas plants
  • Biodegradation of anthropogenic micropollutants in wastewater treatment plants (acesulfame K as model compound)
  • Microbial causes of foam formation in biogas plants

MicAS April 2022

Students and research

Anna-Lena Hack
Hagen Hein
Marie Cäcilie Schmidt
Jerome Undiandeye

Joint project: Development of production facilities for volatile organic acids in industrial biogas plants (Acidogenesis Manipulator) - Subproject: Reduction of inhibition effects of propionic and butyric acid during methanation by promoting direct interspecies electron transfer, BMWi (ZIM) FKZ 16KN070166

Joint project: Chemical Production at Biogas Plants - Upscaling of a Process for the Production of Medium-Chain Carboxylic Acids from Regional Residues (CapUp), BMWK FKZ 13BDA30013