Department Environmental Chemistry

PROduCTS - Predicting environment-specific biotransformation of chemical contaminants

Waste chemicals released into the environment are detrimental both to humans and the natural world. Fortunately, microbial communities in the environment can reduce the problem by breaking down the chemicals – a process called biotransformation. We know little about this process, with the result that for many chemicals released we do not know the extent to which they will be transformed.  

In the ERC-funded project PROduCTS we will therefore study the timescale and products of biotransformation for different chemicals, locations and microbial populations, and derive predictive methods from these observations. These will be implemented in a publically-accessible prediction system.
Our research approach is highly interdisciplinary and profits from the most recent technological and scientific advances in the fields of analytical chemistry, molecular biology and chemo-/bioinformatics. Our results should have a major impact: not only on chemical risk assessments, but also on the recovery of contaminated sites and development of green chemical alternatives.   


Gulde, R.; Anliker, S.; Kohler, H.-P. E.; Fenner, K. (2018) Ion trapping of amines in protozoa: a novel removal mechanism for micropollutants in activated sludge, Environmental Science and Technology, 52(1), 52-60, doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b03556, Institutional Repository
Latino, D. A. R. S.; Wicker, J.; Gütlein, M.; Schmid, E.; Kramer, S.; Fenner, K. (2017) Eawag-Soil in enviPath: a new resource for exploring regulatory pesticide soil biodegradation pathways and half-life data, Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts, 19(3), 449-464, doi:10.1039/C6EM00697C, Institutional Repository
Men, Y.; Achermann, S.; Helbling, D. E.; Johnson, D. R.; Fenner, K. (2016) Relative contribution of ammonia oxidizing bacteria and other members of nitrifying activated sludge communities to micropollutant biotransformation, Water Research, 109, 217-226, doi:10.1016/j.watres.2016.11.048, Institutional Repository
Wicker, J.; Lorsbach, T.; Gütlein, M.; Schmid, E.; Latino, D.; Kramer, S.; Fenner, K. (2016) enviPath – the environmental contaminant biotransformation pathway resource, Nucleic Acids Research, 44(D1), D502-D508, doi:10.1093/nar/gkv1229, Institutional Repository
Johnson, D. R.; Helbling, D. E.; Men, Y.; Fenner, K. (2015) Can meta-omics help to establish causality between contaminant biotransformations and genes or gene products?, Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, 1(3), 272-278, doi:10.1039/c5ew00016e, Institutional Repository