Hi, I’m a Ph.D. student in the anaerobic microbiotechnology group at the department of Molecular sciences, where we study the microbiology of the biogas process.
In my research, I focus on the microbial cooperation (syntrophy) that takes place in biogas reactors with organisms operating close to the thermodynamic limits of what’s energetically possible. This is of commercial interest in order to make biogas reactors more redundant to fluctuating ammonia levels (ammonia inhibition), a problem that can reduce biogas output or in worst case led to a process failure. These syntrophic communities often exhibit aggregating behavior, forming large aggregates of microbial cells (flocs). The role of these flocs is not yet fully understood, are they a crucial aspect of the syntrophic cooperation providing physical proximity between syntrophic partners, a stress response to the high ammonia levels, or perhaps a combination of both? The mechanisms of floc formation are poorly understood and the molecular pathways involved in both flocculation and syntrophic acid degradation are yet to be determined.
Maria Westerholm (Main supervisor) - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Jonas Ohlsson (Co-supervisor) - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Mortiz Buck (Co-supervisor) - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Jan Dolfing (Co-supervisor) - Northumbria University
Check out our project webpage below, where you can read more about the project and watch videos on syntrophic acid degrading communities in action!