Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology Lab

Lab Overview

As human population and living standards increase, human activities place unprecedented stress on natural freshwater ecosystems with global climate change. Microbiological and chemical contaminants in our water create challenges to protect the ecosystem and public health. NRRI’s Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology research program has been studying sources, fate, and transformations of contaminants in natural (e.g. lakes, streams, and wetlands) and built (e.g. sewer and treatment facility, landfills and stormwater systems) environments. The understanding guides the development and enhancement of biological treatment processes for pollution prevention, pollution control, and process design of water/wastewater treatment operations. To find research solutions, the program has used an integrated approach of microbial ecology, environmental genomics and water quality engineering in collaboration and partnership with public agencies, tribal groups, citizens, and industries. 

Lab Goals

Understand chemical and microbial contaminants in the natural and built environment and develop economically sustainable treatment technologies and mitigation strategies. 

Capabilities, Expertise

  • Environmental genomic analysis
  • Fecal indicator bacteria and waterborne pathogens analysis with microbial source tracking and the State-certified coliform bacteria and E. coil
  • Scanning Electron Microscope 
  • eDNA analysis 

Current Research Projects

  1. Biological sulfate treatment: Electrochemical biofiltration system and membrane-enhanced bioreactor with iron-based sulfide sequestration
  2. Anaerobic biological nitrogen removal using methane
  3. Environmental impacts of conventional and alternative deicers and abrasives
  4. Microbial source tracking and waterborne pathogens for recreational water quality
  5. Microbial ecology in Manoomin wetlands and freshwater system
  6. Biogeochemical cycling in the Great Lakes sediment
  7. eDNA optimization of AIS detection
  8. Antibiotic resistance in urban sewer system


Media Coverage