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Maria Westerholm

Maria Westerholm
Researcher in anaerobic microbiology and biogas processes at the Department of Molecular Sciences


My research focuses on microbes involved in anaerobic degradation and biogas production. I am particularly interested in discovering co-occouring network and syntrophic interactions, with the aim to find microbial solutions combined with technological innovations to increase and stabilize biogas production. My prospect is to deepen the knowledge and contribute to the development of anaerobic digestion processes that can be used to build biomass-based platforms for production of biofuels and bio-fertilizer. I've an expertise in strict anaerobic cultivation techniques, bioreactor operation and molecular analyses. As a member of the Anaerobic Microbial Biotechnology (AMB) at SLU, I perform research in close collaboration with biogas industry, research institutes and other Swedish and international research groups.

I started my doctoral studies in 2007 after finishing my MSc in Biotechnology at the Lund Univeristy. I recieved my PhD 2012 with the thesis “Biogas production through the syntrophic acetate-oxidising pathway – characterisation and detection of syntrophic acetate-oxidising bacteria”. I have since then worked as a researcher with a break in 2015 when I did a postdoc at the university KU Leuven in Belgium. 


Biogas production in a sustainable society, anaerobic microbiology, microbial energy metabolism




European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant 2020. ”Deciphering the network of microbial, environmental and physical factors underlying aggregation and enhanced performance in syntrophic microorganism communities” Grant No 948138. 


Kamprad Family Foundation. "Unique reactor concept for enhanced biogas production from lignocellulosic material". Grant No 20200126. Main applicant

Swedish Research Council (VR) Starting Grant (NE). “Promote syntrophic flocculation for optimization of microbial processes” Grant No 2019-03846. Main applicant

Swedish Research Council (Formas). Research and development projects for future research leaders 2018. “Improved biogas production by promoting syntrophic propionate oxidation” Grant No 2018-00928. Main applicant.

Swedish Research Council (Formas) 2018. “Acetogenic platform for production of green bulk chemical”. Grant No 2018-01341. Co-applicant.

Award in the technical-economic class by the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden. “For outstanding research on syntrophic anaerobic microorganisms”


Initiator and participant of the cooperation project "Optimal operating temperature for solid degradation food waste" with Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) and Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE). Funded by Energiforsk BfS2030.


2021 - Supervisor, PhD student Eduardo Pinela, Molecular Sciences, SLU

2021 - Supervisor, PhD student Nils Weng, Molecular Sciences, SLU

2020 – Co-supervisor, PhD student George Cheng, Molecular Sciences, SLU

2020 – Co-supervisor, PhD student Ebba Perman, Molecular Sciences, SLU

2019 - Supervisor,  PhD student Bi Shaojie, College of Engineering, China Agricultural University during three-months study visit at SLU

2009 – present Supervision of five MSc students

Selected publications

I have published 32 peer-reviewed articles and two reviews in peer reviewed scientific journals and two book chapters. The publications have received above 1400 citations in total (excluding self citations) yielding and H-index of 22.


By developing new microbial cultivation systems with technological innovations, we want to find methods for better microbial cooperation with the goal of improving and stabilizing biogas systems (funded by the ERC). Follow our work on:


Researcher at the Department of Molecular Sciences; Mikrobiell bioteknologi
Telephone: +46702035946
Postal address:
Institutionen för molekylära vetenskaper
Box 7015
750 07 Uppsala
Visiting address: Almas Allé 5, BioCentrum, Ultuna, Uppsala

Publications list: