Soil Sampling for Degrading Microbiomes Complete

The initial phase of the MIBIREM project has recently concluded, following the completion of a sampling campaign at contaminated sites across Europe. This phase involved the search for microbiomes capable of degrading organic contaminants. The MIBIREM consortium gathered samples from soil, groundwater, and bac-traps at 13 different contaminated sites in 7 European countries.

The focus was on sites contaminated with cyanides (primarily from former gasworks), petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs), and lindane (also known as HCH or γ-hexachlorocyclohexane) and its isomers. The samples were analyzed for physical-chemical properties and community composition based on 16S rDNA.

Soil sampling in Rinteln, Germany 2023 by (C) Sensatec

Three different contaminants

Petroleum Hydrocarbons (PHCs) are among the most common contaminants in soil and groundwater in Europe and worldwide. Finding effective microbiomes and gaining a better understanding of the environmental conditions for microbial degradation can help address environmental contamination in many locations.

Although lindane is no longer produced in Europe, localized contamination remains at production and storage sites, requiring remediation due to its high toxicity. Cyanides, previously overlooked in favor of seemingly more critical contaminants, have become a significant problem at many former gasworks across Europe.

Initial microcosm tests with samples from these sites yielded promising results, suggesting that microbiomes with high potential for degrading these contaminants are present.


Author: Thomas Reichenauer,

Scientific Co-ordinator, AIT

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