Current Projects


Study on the aquatic bioassay with the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans for the assessment of ecotoxicity and bioaccumulation of environmental samples and chemicals (2016-2018); Funding: German Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG).

Sullied Sediments (2017-2020): Sediment Characterisation and Clean Up Pilots in Inland Waterways; Interreg Projekt under the Northsea Region Programme of the EU; as co-beneficiary of HAW Hamburg; Funding: European Community

A cost and time efficient microcosm test to assess the risk of environmentally relevant pollutants on soil life (2017-2020); Funding: German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU); Project No. 33600/1  

Soil is teeming with (inconspicuous) life, and soils are among the most densely inhabited and biodiverse habitats on our planet. Apart from the intrinsic value of biodiversity, soil biota are responsible for a number of essential ecosystem services such a carbon fixation, nitrogen and phosphorous cycling, water holding capacity, de-toxification of a variety of wastes. Hence, soil life matters. However, soil living communities can be disturbed by pollutants, and depending on the nature and persistence of these pollutants the impact can range from negligible to irreversibly negative. To assess the impact of pollutants, ecologically-relevant risk assessment assays are essential. However, experimental data on the ecological risk assessment of environmental chemicals in terrestrial soils are, compared to the aquatic field, relatively scarce. Amongst others, this is due to the lack of tools to assess the toxicity of chemicals in soils and to validate the transferability of toxicity data tot he field. Within the applied project, we want to optimize, validate and standardize a microcosm test system, which allows to assess effects of environmentally relevant chemicals (e.g. metals, PAHs, pesticides) on nematode communities in the laboratory. Nematodes can be used as in indicator group for soil life, as this abundant and speciose group of organisms is represented at all trophic levels of the soil food web. Another advantage of the test system is the low costs for materials and staff. By comparing conventional, morphological taxonomy with DNA-based, quantitative community analysis, we validate an innovative method, applicable also for non-taxonomists. By this, the test system is accessible to a broad range of potential users (contract labs, authorities, industry). To validate the test system, we want to check how nematode communities in different soil types respond to various chemicals. Various structural and functional toxicity endpoints will be compared in terms of their sensitivity to chemical stress after various periods of exposure. Criteria will be defined to standardize the test system, making it’s results robust and reliable. As deliverables this project will generate an afforable and standardized microcosm assays that can be used to assess the impact of soil pollutants without the need for specific taxonomic expertise.