Project concept

MAGICPAH stands for Molecular Approaches and Metagenomic Investigations for Clean-up of Polyaromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) contaminated sites, a small focused research project to explore, understand and exploit the catalytic activities of microbial communities involved in the degradation of persistent PAHs. Notably it will:

  1. identify the relevant molecular microbial diversity and the molecular biological processes which play a major role in the removal of PAH contaminants from soils, sediments and wastewaters

  2. use the hereby gathered information for the design of new knowledge-based strategies for the mitigation of ecological damage caused by PAHs in different habitats and

  3. elucidate and apply novel biocatalysts for the development of industrially relevant products, as outlined in the call.

PAHs are formed during incomplete combustion and pyrolysis of organic material. We use the term PAH here for condensed aromatic structural units that include the polyaromatic hydrocarbons by strict chemical definition (e.g. the 16 EPA PAHs), their alkylated analogues and polyaromatic structural units containing heteroatoms (N,S,O) typically formed during incomplete combustion and pyrolysis. PAHs, the most important component of creosote, soot particles, coal tar and many other pyrolysis products as well as their alkylated analogues, which are major constituents of crude oil PAHs, continue to pose serious environmental problems for terrestrial and marine environments at a global scale. The project makes use of the extensive scientific knowledge gathered during the last years on aerobic and anaerobic degradation of organic pollutants, the biodiversity of the micro-organisms involved and on molecular tools to address this diversity in a culture-independent approach and is carried out by the coordinated collaboration of 11 scientific teams (from 8 different countries) which have in the past extensively contributed to this knowledge and 2 industrial Beneficiaries.