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In the Environment and Circular Economy Division we address a wide range of research topics concerning the environmental impact of the exploitation of energy resources (from fossil fuels to green energy installations), the assessment and mitigation of environmental pollution, and the development of materials and energy reuse technologies.

Specific areas of research are:

  • Oil spills in the marine environment – biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in coastal and deep-sea ecosystems at in situ conditions of temperature and pressure (emulation of deep-water hydrocarbon plumes)

  • Bioremediation technologies – effectiveness of commercial dispersants, biostimulation, and biosurfactants in bioremediation

  • Plastic pollution in marine ecosystems – distribution, weathering, and biodegradation of micro- and nano-sized plastic

  • Blue Carbon ecosystems – climate change mitigation through nature-based solutions


Analytical Techniques 


Microbiology – Molecular biology techniques

Molecular biology techniques

  • Cultivation, isolation, and taxonomic identification of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria
  • Screening for biosurfactant-producing bacteria (drop collapse test, oil spreading assay, emulsification assay)
  • Development of hydrocarbon-degrading consortia for bioremediation (bioaugmentation technique)
  • Cell enumeration by fluorescent microscopy and flow cytometry
  • Enumeration of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria in environmental samples (MPN method)
  • Microbial community profiling with amplicon sequencing (16S, 18S)


High-Pressure Facility: High-Pressure (HP) sampling and experimentation systems to study deep-sea ecosystems functions and response to perturbations.

High Preassure

  • HP-Reactor (Parr Instrument Company, Moline, IL, USA), with a maximum capacity of 1 L and working pressure up to 20 MPa.
  • Custom-made HP sampler (max. capacity 1L, working P 10MPa) and HP incubation bottles (max. capacity 0.4L, working P 10MPa)
  • X-PRESS HP Sampling Unit (HPSU; Top Industrie, France): max capacity 0.5L, working P 60MPa
  • X-PRESS HP Experimentation Unit (Top Industrie, France): consists of an HP piston pump and 3 incubation bottles of 0.1L max. capacity and working P 60MPa