Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UMBRELLA against heavy metals

03.09.2009
Microbiologist at Jena University coordinates new EU research collaboration

"Please take" - as simple as following a recipe in a cook book, soils containing heavy metals could be remediated in the future: Depending on the kind of contamination and the conditions on the site in question, the best remediation recipe can be put together - that is the goal of a recently started research project.

UMBRELLA is the name of the project that is coordinated at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. The acronym UMBRELLA stands for "Using MicroBes for the REgulation of heavy metaL mobiLity at ecosystem and landscape scAle", indicating how to regulate heavy metal contamination by means of microbes.

"We want to develop a tool-box from which suitable parts can be chosen to remediate contaminated soils", says Prof. Dr. Erika Kothe from the University of Jena. The Professor for Microbial Phytopathology coordinates the international UMBRELLA team uniting 13 partners from eight European countries. Within the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission, the project is funded within a volume of almost EUR 3 million for the next three years. Besides Prof. Kothe's team, geoscientists around Prof. Dr. Büchel from Jena University are involved in UMBRELLA as well.

By "tools" for the soil clean-up the microbiologist Kothe means, of course, microorganisms. The principle is simple: Bacteria and fungi take up heavy metals, like e.g. cadmium, nickel or copper, from the soil and store them. "This way, toxic substances are bound at least temporarily to microbes, relieving output into rivers and ground water", explains Prof. Kothe the effects of the "umbrella" against heavy metals. Apart from microorganisms, also suitable plants will be provided to remove the metals from the soil.

Such useful bacteria and plants can be found wherever there are heavy metals in the ground, for instance in the contaminated soils of the "Wismut" region - the former uranium ore mining area in eastern Thuringia and Saxony. To detect and characterize them systematically will be the focus of UMBRELLA. But not only there. "Throughout Europe we want to investigate six former mining districts", states Prof. Kothe. Apart from the "Wismut" mine waste dumps, the scientists will examine contaminated areas in Rumania, Sweden, Great Britain, Poland and Italy.

At first, those microorganisms and plants withdrawing heavy metals from the soil most efficiently must be identified - depending on the climatic, biological and geological conditions. "On a long-term basis, we want to improve and generalize existing remedial processes", explains Kothe. The microbiologist from Jena University regrets that current guide lines tend to look at soil and water protection separately. "UMBRELLA aims at a more holistic picture, relating the source of contamination to its entry and transport in ground water or rivers up to landscape level modeling." This is why the researchers also collaborate with appropriate authorities, for instance with the Thuringian Institution for Environment and Geology (Thüringer Landesanstalt für Umwelt und Geologie, TLUG).

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Erika Kothe
Institute of Microbiology
Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
Neugasse 25
D-07743 Jena
Phone: +49 (0)3641 949291
Email: erika.kothe[at]uni-jena.de

Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw
Further information:
http://www.umbrella.uni-jena.de
http://www.uni-jena.de

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>