Innovative and sustainable landfill waste management using the anammox reaction


Landfill leachate is an enormous problem in the UK with major environmental consequences for pollution, eutrophication and climate change. The aim of this PhD project is to provide a novel solution to ammonium removal from the landfill leachate through the microbially driven anammox (anaerobic ammonium oxidation) reaction. Anammox is a very important step in the global nitrogen cycle and carried out by an unusual and fascinating group of microorganisms of the phylum Planctomycetes. Anammox was only discovered 20 years ago, but has been used successfully for large-scale wastewater treatment. This studentship will pioneer a novel application of the anammox technology in landfill leachate treatment and reveal important insights into microbiology and nitrogen fluxes in constructed wetlands.

This project is at the interface between fundamental and applied science. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the Norfolk County Council which began landfill anammox trials in 2013. The student will be based at UEA and the project includes a 3-month placement at the Norfolk County Council.

The PhD student will receive training in a wide range of cutting edge molecular, microbiological and analytical chemistry techniques. Project includes working with DNA and RNA, sequencing, bioinformatics, isotopic labelling, mass spectrometry and enrichment and characterisation of novel microorganisms. Applicants will have a minimum 2:1 BSc or a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Biological Sciences and a strong background in microbiology, molecular biology or biogeochemistry.

Project is funded for 4 years and comes with an enhanced stipend from the industrial partner.


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Kyupers MMM, et al., (2003) Anaerobic ammonium oxidation by anammox bacteria in the Black Sea. Nature 422: 608-611.