The main objective of the project is to improve the assessment of biodegradation and persistence of chemicals of emerging concern. This will be achieved by improving current standardized laboratory tests, or by developing new tests if required. The focus for improvement is on the microbial inoculum used in these tests. There is a need for a better understanding of microbial community dynamics during biodegradation testing in the laboratory and under different environmental scenarios.
The microbial dynamics will be monitored in laboratory tests where different water samples, containing different microbial communities, will be conditioned to laboratory settings and exposed to various chemicals. Flowcytometry will be used for cell counts to monitor growth patterns of bacteria, supplemented with microscopic identification of bacterial predators such as protozoa. A set of reference chemicals spanning from readily biodegradable to inherent biodegradable and persistent will be used for benchmarking optimal conditions for the inoculum. Diversity and variability in microbial communities in the environment, mesocosms (Aquaponics) and laboratory experiments will be analysed using metabarcoding for assessing dynamics in community composition under the different treatments.
Finally, the implication for persistence assessments and comparison to current practice for environmental risk assessment will be performed for a set of selected environmental pollutants.