Ecotoxicology of soil organisms

Main area:Ecology
Target group:Biology
Educational level:Masters, Bachelor
Project description:

As part of a more sustainable energy strategy, biofuels, i.e. wood and straw, are increasingly used to produce energy. At present, the ash produced is to a large extent deposited as waste. For environmental and economic reasons it is however desirable to recycle this ash, chiefly in forests. Such a recycling will enable the re-use of the nutrients in the ash and will reduce economic and ecological consequences of waste-disposal. However, the ash may contain substances unwanted in nature, especially heavy metals, and in particular Cadmium. These substances may directly affect organisms, and thus affect forest diversity, and may also be accumulated in food-chains, with potential harmful effects on humans, for example if concentrated in mushrooms and berries. In the project you can use an experimental approach to study effects directly on particular groups of soil organisms, nematodes, protozoa, earthworms, beetles. But you can also make a study on existing literature and compile relevant data there. This project is part of a broader research initiative ASHBACK (, where we study effects of ash in a broad ecological perspective. You will be part of an interesting research team, where we approach environmental problems not only biologically, but also discuss ethical issues etc., and where we are responsible for defining future threshold values for the use of bio-ash.

Methods used:Literature search, Cultivation of soil-organisms. Identification soil organisms. PCR and sequencing. Analyses of soil properties. Others depending on the specific project.
Keywords:Ecotoxicology, soil-microorganisms, Soil animals, ethical issues, threshold values
Supervisor(s):  Flemming Ekelund