Department Environmental Chemistry

Environmental Chemistry of Biomolecules

The research group Bio-&-Macromolecules investigates the stability and fate processes of biomolecules and macromolecular pollutants in aquatic systems. We aim to connect molecular transformation reactions to changes in the functionality of these large compounds. Therefore, we incorporate molecular biology tools into our environmental chemistry research.

We investigate the transformation mechanisms of extracellular biomolecules, their monomeric building blocks as well as macromolecular pollutants in aquatic systems. Here, we establish transformation rates and product formation in controlled and simulated natural systems to determine the compound’s mobility (e.g., partitioning behavior) and stability (e.g., biotic and photochemical reactivity). From there, we aim to connect molecular changes in the three-dimensional structure to changes of the compound’s function (e.g., toxicity, inhibition, catalysis). Our work requires to further develop state-of-the art analytical chemistry in combination with molecular tools, including techniques from proteomics and enzymology.

Team members

Patrick HelblingCivilian service memberTel. +41 58 765 5271Send Mail
Jonathan HeldCivilian service memberTel. +41 58 765 6486Send Mail


Dr. Elisabeth JanssenSenior Scientist / group leaderTel. +41 58 765 5428Send Mail

Current projects

Comprehensive, open access database of > 2000 secondary metabolites from cyanobacteria...
Various aquatic organisms produce extracellular biomolecules, e.g., enzymes to catalyze reactions, chelators to transport metals, or toxins to fight competitors...
Our research on fate of pharmaceuticals is motivated by investigating transformation pathways and kinetics to better understand the lifetime of such biologically active compounds in our freshwater Systems...
Analytical and environmental chemistry of toxins and bioactive metabolites from cyanobacteria...