Mermaid was a European network formed to train promising young researchers to describe and control the microbial communities central to the treatment of residual water and the production and distribution of drinking water. This project, funded by the European Union through the Marie Slodoska Curie Actions, and which we coordinated, is no longer active but the website remains available here.

SandBAR (Strategies and Barriers to avoid the spread of Antibiotic Resistance genes during wastewater treatment) will investigate how plasmids and genes encoding antimicrobial resistance (AMR) spread, persist, or are eliminated from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and how this affects their accessibility to pathogens. We will identify traits of the WWTP microbial communities that promote horizontal gene transfer and the spread of AMR genes. SandBAR will reveal microbial groups and mobile genetic elements that facilitate spread of AMR traits from and to human pathogens, and identify WWTP conditions and configurations that mitigate transfer. SandBAR aims to provide a critical contribution in evaluating the potential burden or mitigation opportunities of wastewater treatment towards AMR dissemination.

In collaboration with: Univ. of Copenhagen (S.J. Sørensen)
Funded by: the Danish council for independent research


Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has played as a crucial role in conferring formidable adaptability to microorganisms under stressful environmental conditions, especially the global proliferation of antibiotic resistance. P-TransPant, aims to open a brand-new horizon for understanding HGT in microbial communities of urban wastewater system and evaluating risk of HGT associated antibiotic resistance dissemination.

Funded via the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under REA grant agreement number 609405 (COFUNDPostdocDTU).


With the BioCAT project, we are seeking for microbes that are able to harvest electrical energy. BioCAT aims to cultivate novel electrogens from different environments using aerobic and anaerobic biocathodes at different poised potential and to discover novel electron transfer pathways using metagenomics and metatranscriptomics.

Funded by: The Novo Nordisk Foundation


The recent discovery of comammox Nitrospira represents a new paradigm in nitrification. Using rapid sand filters as a model system, this project aims to understand the ecology and niche space of nitrifiers, including comammox Nitrospira. This project further aims to develop an understanding of the physiology and metabolism of comammox Nitrospira and the evolutionary history of the comammox pathway using genomic and traditional microbiological methods. Specifically, we are making efforts on enrichments and isolation of different nitrifiers including comammox Nitrospira. We are also studying the microbial competition and interactions in nitrifying systems under different environmental conditions. Additionally, by using omics-based approaches, we are investigating the comammox microdiversity observed in this studied system.
Funded by: The Villum Foundation.

In DARWIN (Dynamics of Antimicrobial Resistance in the Urban Water Cycle in Europe), we postulate that urban water systems (UWS), which are our receptacle for excreted antimicrobials, AMR organisms and AMR genes, are central conduits of AMR to and from pathogens and environmental strains. We will undertake a pan-European examination of the fate of key AMR organisms and genetic determinants in UWSs resulting from discharged hospital and community wastes, including transmission mechanisms in different compartments of sewer catchments and receiving waters. We will determine specific bacterial hosts that carry AMR genes across UWSs, and identify where key HGT events occur with the ultimate goal of assessing the relative risk of AMR genes returning back to humans due to environmental exposure. A predictive dynamic mathematical model for UWSs will be developed to assist in health and sewage management decisions.

In collaboration with: Univ. of Copenhagen (S.J. Sørensen); Newcastle Univ. (D. Graham); Univ. of Birmingham ( J.U. Kreft); Univ. Santiago de Compostela (J.L. Romalde); Univ. Hospital Complex of Santiago de Compostela (C. Garcia-Riestra); Rambam Health Care Campus (M. Paul).

Funded by: Joint Programming Initiative - Antimicrobial Resistance

Diagnostics and management of nitrous oxide production and emission during biological wastewater treatment

Atmospheric concentrations of nitrous oxide (N2O), an important greenhouse gas with ozone destroying properties, are increasing at alarming rates. Emissions of N2O from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are of growing concern. Studies on which microbial mechanisms produce N2O, and how these are controlled by environmental conditions are subject of ongoing investigation. The results of this project will first and foremost improve our fundamental understanding of the mechanisms and regulation of N2O production during biological wastewater treatment by using a combination of biogeochemical (including stable isotope based (15N, 18O) methods) and molecular ecological approaches (including omic methods). Additionally, the N2O consumption capacity of particularly the denitrifying community is in focus of the project, as its management may enable the mitigation of net N2O production. Combined with on-line sensor measurements at lab-scale Partial Nitritation and Partial Nitritation-Anammox bioreactors, the project will provide detailed, mechanistically-founded insight to how we can predict and control N2O emissions, so that effective management strategies can be derived to ensure that WWTPs control their nitrogen (N) load to both the atmosphere and the aquatic environment.
Funded by: Danish Council for Independent Research | Technology and Production Sciences (FTP)

LaGas was a DSF funded Research Project and consisted of a highly interdisciplinary and engaging consortium with both national and international scientific partners as well as industrial partners and end-users. The project was led by the Department of Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) (DTU Env) with Prof. Barth F. Smets as the project manager. The Management Board contained members from the Department of Environmental Engineering (DTU Env), Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (DTU), University of Southern Denmark, Krüger A/S, Veolia Water, Unisense A/S and Copenhagen Wastewater Innovation.

The project is no longer active but the website with more detailed information remains available here.