Microbial degradation of Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in various environmental compartments: a rainwater perspective

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are highly persistent environmental pollutants, sixteen of which are classified priority pollutants due to their mutagenic, carcinogenic and toxic properties. Atmospheric deposition and urban surface run-offs are major non-point sources of PAHs into the environment, significantly high during heavy rainfall events. This project focusses on understanding the extent of microbial degradation of PAHs in environmental compartments receiving rainfall and road run-offs.

To understand microbial PAH degradation, laboratory microcosm experiments will be set-up with environmental samples and assessed by methods of Stable isotope probing (SIP) and Raman microspectroscopy. Environmental samples would be further characterized by cultivation-independent 16SrRNA gene sequencing to study inherent microbial community composition and its variation with precipitation events.


  • PhD student: Sneha Suresh
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Rainer Meckenstock (UDE, Chemistry)
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jens Boenigk (UDE, Biology)
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst (UDE, Chemistry)
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jost Wingender (UDE, Chemistry)
  • Mentor: Dr. Catrin Boernemann (Wupperverband)