Using microorganisms for pollution control in soil and groundwater

Ebbe Norskov Bak

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Using microorganisms for pollution control in soil and groundwater

Monitoring and characterizing bioremediation
Remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater is often a costly and complicated affair. One of the newer methods within bioremediation is to utilize the ability of bacteria to break down a number of chemical substances, such as chlorinated hydrocarbons and oil components. Bioremediation can utilize naturally occurring bacteria or bacteria that have been added and contain special characteristics to decompose the unwanted chemicals. In both cases, it is important to monitor and control the bacteria and their activity during the process.

How can Danish Technological Institute help you?
The Laboratory for Chemistry and Microbiology has broad experience within monitoring, characterization and consultancy work in the field of applied microbiology. We combine modern genetic rapid methods with chemical measurements and high-quality advisory services, and continuously develop new analysis methods and monitoring tools within bioremediation and general environmental technology.

Our services comprise:

  • Monitoring of soil and groundwater before, during, and after bioremediation.
  • Detection and quantification of Dehalococcoides sp.
  • Detection and quantification of the specific Dehalococcoides vcrA and bvcA that can completely degrade chlorinated solvents and vinyl chloride to ethene.
  • Development of new methods tailored to meet specific purposes, e.g. a specific microorganism for degradation of chemical compounds.
  • A wide range of methods for characterizing the microbial population in industrial and natural environments (qPCR, RT-qPCR, microscopy, FISH, and sequencing).
  • Carrying out research and development projects.

The analysis method
For the detection and enumeration of microorganisms, the DNA-based fast method qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) is used. With this method, both living and dead cells are detected, and the method is therefore particularly suited for screening applications where there is a need to determine whether or not Dehalococcoides is present in the contaminated area.

The method is also very suitable for closely monitoring the development in particular areas, and to examine if the measures carried out to increase the growth of Dehalococcoides are effective. Therefore, the method is a powerful tool to control the growth of Dehalococcoides.

Dehalococcoides is an anaerobic bacterium which is difficult to cultivate, and qPCR is an easy and fast method for the quantification of Dehalococcoides.

The advantages of the method
The advantage of this method is a relatively short analysis time, where an answer is available within 5 working days after the sample has been received in the laboratory. In addition, many samples can be analyzed in one day, making a large flow of samples possible.