Project summary

Contaminated sites pose a significant risk to humans and the environment. Innovative cleaning technologies are needed to remediate these sites and remove contaminants such as cyanides, hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) and petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC).

Bioremediation uses living organisms like microbes (including bacteria), to digest and neutralise environmental contaminants. Like the microbiome in the gut, which supports the body in digesting food, microbiomes in contaminated sites can produce enzymes that degrade organic contaminants in soil and groundwater.

The EU-funded MIBIREM project will exploit microbiomes for bioremediation of contaminated sites. MIBIREM will develop a unique and innovative technological toolbox for microbiome-based bioremediation to clean up contaminated sites across Europe.

Project facts

Coordinator = RTDS Group (Austria) as project coordinator, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology as scientific coordinator

Funding program = Horizon Europe

Consortium = MIBIREM is a European project bridging the fields of natural science, engineering and technology with 11 partners from 6 countries. The project brings together state-of-the-art microbiome science research centres with leading biotechnology companies.


In Europe, there are currently 324,000 severely contaminated sites, such as mines, landfills or petrol

stations. Many organic contaminants in these sites cannot be removed easily: they can reach deep into the soil, are extensive, or the contamination is below a used building. Conventional remediation technologies to clean up these sites are often too costly, technically demanding and not eco-friendly.

Microbiomes have high potential to improve remediation processes. While they are slower, they can be more cost-efficient and eco-friendly compared to other remediation methods: they use little water, do not produce waste and have a low carbon footprint.

With the MIBIREM toolbox, the project will identify, analyse, cultivate and upscale microbiomes for bioremediation, to take up the challenge of cleaning up Europe’s contaminated sites.

Solution – the MIBIREM toolbox

Through the MIBIREM toolbox, the project will provide innovative methods to use the potential of microbiomes in degrading contaminants in soil and groundwater. The project will develop molecular methods for the monitoring, isolation, cultivation and deposition of whole microbiomes. The MIBIREM toolbox will also include methodology to improve microbiome functions, including evolution and enrichment. Improved microbiomes will then be tested under real field conditions in selected sites across Europe.

The MIBIREM toolbox is developed for highly efficient environmental applications of microbiomes for bioremediation. For that purpose, the project will use active microbiomes to target three of the most common groups of contaminants in soil and groundwater in Europe. These contaminants are cyanides, hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) and petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC).

With its toolbox, MIBIREM aims to pave the way for the long-term upscaling of microbiome-based bioremediation to benefit humans and the environment.



Bioremediation can be 20-50% cheaper than current practice


Bioremediation emits 70-90% less CO2 emissions than conventional remediation technologies


20,000-26,000 sites in Europe are suitable for immediate bioremediation


MIBIREM-based bioremediation increases every year by 3-5%


The bioremediation market has huge potential, growing twice as fast as the remediation market as a whole


“With MIBIREM, we want to emphasise the importance of microbiomes for the bioremediation of contaminated sites. The resulting MIBIREM toolbox shall help to better exploit remediating microbiomes in the future.”

“The MIBIREM Consortium is ideal in the mix of disciplines and co-involvement of the private and public sectors. Without the committed company investment in this project, the research would remain in the lab. I am optimistic that the MIBIREM consortium will pave the way for effective and affordable soil bioremediation as an outcome”

Partners in project

Funding acknowledgement

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are
however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those
Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.