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TU Berlin

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UWI Urban Water Interfaces (DFG research training group 2032)

The aim of this thesis is to study the potential of both defined and natural biofilm communities to degrade (recalcitrant) pollutants such as paracetamol, diclofenac, carbamazepine and iodinated contrast media in urban water systems.

It focuses on the biofilms that are formed at various solid-water interfaces and consist of both aerobic and anaerobic subpopulations capable of promoting multiple degradation pathways and strategies. A variety of biofilm reactors and long standing experience in their operation and analysis are available. Different reactors will be used for testing organic removal rates and documenting the accumulation of microbial populations. The microbial populations will be examined by physiological tests and molecular methods (454 sequencing, FISH, CLSM, DGGE, qPCR).

In addition, a large collection of freshwater and iron bacteria already available in culture will be tested for their degradation potential. The aim is to evaluate if the pollutant-degrading organisms can live on trace pollutants alone or if they require cosubstrates to maintain their energy metabolism. We will also assess the significance of interactions (syntrophy, co-metabolism) between organisms for determining degradation efficiency.

We are especially interested in the extent that the pharmaceuticals are transformed to compounds which can be integrated into the pool of natural humic substances. After having identified the pollutant-degrading organisms, specific tools (FISH, qPCR) will be used to detect and quantify them in both laboratory reactors and natural biofilms.

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Dr. rer. nat. Burga Braun
+ 49 30 314 73566
Room BH-N 615

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MSc. Marcella Nega
+49 30 314 78593
Room BH-N 607