Biological Control of Organic Contaminants
A diverse set of trace organic contaminants including pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and personal care products encounter a complex microbial community in wastewater treatment plants. This microbial community may biotransform or trap the compounds, lowering the concentration of the compound from the discharge of the wastewater treatment plant. The exact mechanisms of these removal process remains are just now becoming better understood, requiring the interface of advanced analytics, massively parallel sequencing of genetic material, and microscopic observation. The overarching goal of these projects are to better describe the exact mechanisms occurring and provide easily adopted optimization criteria for wastewater treatment plant operation and design.
- Achermann, S., Mansfeldt, C., Johnson, D., and Fenner K. 2019. Metatranscriptomic profiles describes micropollutant biotransformation potential of complex microbial communities. Environmental Science & Technology. Under Revision.
- Achermann, S., Falås, P., Joss, A., Mansfeldt, C., Men, Y., Vogler, B., & Fenner, K. 2018. Trends in micropollutant biotransformation along a solids retention time gradient. Environmental Science & Technology. 52(20):11601–11611. DOI:10.1021/acs.est.8b02763
- Achermann, S., Bianco, V., Mansfeldt, C., Vogler, B., Kolvenbach, B., Corvini, P., & Fenner, K. 2018. Biotransformation of sulfonamide antibiotics in activated sludge: The formation of pterin-conjugates leads to sustained risk. Environmental Science & Technology, 52(11):6265-6274. DOI:10.1021/acs.est.7b06716
Structure and Function of Microbial Communities
Engineered and natural microbial systems display substantial diversity with thousands of species coexisting across all three domains of life. Uncovering the basic guidelines of the assembly of these communities, from the origin of the resident microorganisms to the parameters controlling the composition of the developed community, provides both design criteria or engineered processes and fundamental understanding of the assembly of natural communities. This core understanding may in turn assist in the hunt for novel niches and metabolisms in the global biosphere. Therefore, the objective of this research area is to combine computational ecological models with environmental observations and massively parallel sequencing to infer critical components of the assembly and function of microbial communities.
- Mansfeldt, C., Achermann, S., Men, Y., Walser, J., Villez, K., Joss, A., Johnson, D., and Fenner, K. 2019. Microbial residence time is a controlling parameter of the taxonomic and functional-enzyme composition of microbial communities. ISMEJ. 13(6), 1589.
Resource Recovery and Management
The concept of a wastewater treatment plant is transforming from a terminal disposal system into a resource recovery operation. New microbial processes are being designed to capture nutrients or
develop value-added products. Additionally, the concept of the facility is being extended both up- and down-stream, incorporating sewer and river networks into critical design components of wastewater treatment plants. The objective of this area of research is to discover and optimize new microbial processes to capture nutrients and value added products, identify interventions that can be employed in the sewer network to improve resource recoveries downstream, and determine how the “missed-opportunities” discharged from wastewater treatment plants influence or are utilized by downstream microbial communities.
- Mansfeldt, C., Deiner, K., Mächler, E., Fenner, K., Eggen, R., Schönenberger, U., Johnson, D., Walser, J., and Altermatt, F. 2019. Bacterial community shifts in streams receiving treated wastewater effluent. Science of the Total Environment. Submitted, Under Revision.
- Richter, L., Mansfeldt, C., Kuan, M., Cesare, A., Menefee, S., Richardson, R., & Ahner, B. 2018. Altered microbiome leads to significant phenotypic and transcriptomic differences in a lipid accumulating chlorophyte. Environmental Science & Technology, 52 (12):6854–6863. DOI:10.1021/acs.est.7b06581.
- Mansfeldt, C., Richter, L., Ahner, B., Cochlan, W., & Richardson, R. 2016. Use of de novo transcriptome libraries to characterize a novel oleaginous marine Chlorella species during the accumulation of triacylglycerols. PloS One, 11(2). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0147527