CenteR for Environmental and Agricultural Microbiology.

Project Details


Modern agricultural practices introduce a variety of contaminating chemicals to surface soils
through practices such as chemical pest management, manure application, and deposition of biosolids
from wastewater treatment plants. In addition, diffuse pollution of residential and agricultural
soils in urban areas or near traffic corridors may constitute an underestimated problem. Many of
these contaminants are degraded slowly or incompletely in top soils, and may therefore leach to
lower soil horizons, and ultimately contaminate aquifers. As a result, soil contamination, e.g. by
pesticides, hydrocarbons, and veterinary as well as human pharmaceuticals is creating a legitimate
concern in the public: Are residential soils safe? Can agricultural soils continue to generate safe
crops for human consumption? Will the underlying aquifers continue to provide safe drinking waters?
Microbial transformation and degradation of contaminating compounds are of major importance in
soil environments. Yet, few studies have identified and quantified the true rate limiting processes of
contaminant degradation at low concentrations of contaminants in undisturbed soil samples, and at
the scale relevant for microbial life forms. The goals of the proposed cross-disciplinary and multiinstitutional
research center are to elucidate, quantify, and ultimately find ways to control the ratelimiting
processes for biodegradation of selected contaminants in soil systems.
Effective start/end date01/06/200631/05/2011


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