Testimonial from the Bioremediation Symposium Battelle in the US

The 2023 Bioremediation Symposium, organized by Battelle and held in Austin on May 8-11th, was an outstanding event for bioremediators!

The technical details of the presentations were exceptional, as was the level of expertise of the people present. Within this framework, presenting the MIBIREM project was an honor and I have to say that we certainly were not out of place amongst the many international experts! This demonstrates that Europe is capable of achieving high levels of competence, though to keep up we will need to work hard since, on the other side of the Atlantic, a lot of funding is available for R&D activities.

(c)DND Biotech: Cosimo Masini at the 6th Int. Symposium on Bioremetiation – Battelle

During my presentation, titled ‘A Molecular Approach to Lindane Biodegradation’, the problem of this pesticide was discussed, describing some previous results obtained from a study funded by DND Biotech on samples from a contaminated site in Italy. Lindane was produced and used as a broad-spectrum insecticide and treatment against ectoparasites between 1945 and 2000. Production was inefficient because each ton of lindane resulted in the production of 8 to 12 tons of waste isomers. These waste isomers were dumped at production facilities and often led to huge landfills. More than 4.8 million tons of HCH-waste were and, for the most part, still are present worldwide. Lindane and the other HCH isomers barely degrade in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food chain, and present a risk to human health and the environment. They were banned in the EU in 2000 and placed under the Stockholm Convention on POPs in 2009.

(C)DND Biotech: Presentation of MIBIREM at Battelle on May 8, 2023

The Italian model site I described is polluted as a consequence of lindane production from the mid ‘40s to late ‘70s and two nearby disused waste disposal areas have reported high concentrations of HCH isomers (𝛼, 𝛽, 𝛾). In 2005, high concentrations of the beta isomer were detected in cow milk and dairy products from farms in the area. A state of environmental crisis was declared by the Italian government for the area and epidemiological surveillance was implemented. The two disposal areas were studied and characterized; containment plans were put in place to permanently separate the contaminated soil. However, the sediments of the river, as well as agricultural soil, have absorbed the contaminant, releasing it during flooding events. Soil and groundwater samples have been taken, characterized and used as baseline to create microbial enrichment cultures. Several fungal and bacterial strains have been isolated as able to grow on HCH as sole carbon source.

Within this framework, I introduced the Horizon Europe project MIBIREM, as a multidisciplinary venture involving experts in molecular biology, microbiology, environmental engineering, analytical chemistry, from various European research institutes, universities and SMEs. I explained the final goal of the project: the exploitation of microbiomes to implement a sustainable and cost-effective approach for widespread diffused contamination, particularly petroleum hydrocarbons, cyanides and HCH isomers. I highlighted the envisioned output of the MIBIREM project: the creation of a toolbox to identify, analyze, cultivate and upscale the microbiomes for bioremediation applications, while ensuring safety and policy alignment.

(C)DND Biotech: Cosimo Masini, MIBIREM Partner at the Battelle Symposium

(c)DND BioTech: Stand at the Bioremediation Symposium with MIBIREM flyers

Within the MIBIREM project, DND Biotech aims to be a provider of know-how in on-site, in-field bioremediation and will be responsible for the optimization and pilot implementation of the use of selected microorganisms for the removal of various contaminants (cyanides, lindane/HCH and petroleum hydrocarbons) from polluted soils. For this scope, our piloting system RoboNova will be used, providing useful data to bridge lab scale findings and field works.

Cosimo Masini

CEO of DND Biotech, MIBIREM partner


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