Work Package 1: Anaerobic digestion of biopolymers

Anaerobic digestion of organic matter to organic and volatile fatty acids.

Anaerobic digestion of biopolymers to methane is a complex microbial process that requires cooperation of anaerobic bacteria and methanogenic archaea. Fermentative and acetogenic bacteria can degrade biopolymers into organic and volatile fatty acids. Methanogens convert the final products of fermenters and acetogens into methane

These processes are exploited for biotechnological purposes to produce high-value products such as the building blocks propionate, succinate, butyrate and biofuels. Beside the importance of these processes in man-made systems, the degradation of polysaccharides (or biopolymers) to short chain fatty acids is also taking place in the human intestine.

Currently, we have a fragmentary picture of phylogenetic types of anaerobic bacteria that degrade (bio-) polymers, the products that they form, and how product formation is affected by environmental factors in both man-made systems and the human intestinal tract. In work package 1 we focus on these research questions.