How to speed up the discovery of linkages between trace organic contaminant degradation and enzymes/species?
If microbial biodegradation was to be used for contaminant removal in engineering applications other than site- and contaminant-specific remediation, conditions need to be geared towards improved removal of a broad range of rather low concentrated contaminants. To design such systems, causal linkages between key enzymes and/or microorganisms and degradation of a wide variety of contaminants needs to be understood. In this working group, we will discuss how this discovery process can be sped up. Specifically, we will try to envision a combination of experimental techniques and data analysis pipelines that would enable a high-throughput exploration of linkages between contaminant removal and biological factors (i.e., enzymes, community composition, conditions etc.), and identify the major challenges (e.g., need for lab automatization/robotics, lack of relevant databases, inherent interdisciplinarity etc.). In the context of this working group, we will also address means of distinguishing metabolic from co-metabolic contaminant biotransformation and discuss advantages/disadvantages of taxonomic vs. functional gene information for the envisaged discovery process.