A group of 10 researchers at the Institute of Environmental Sciences will receive 5 million rubles a year for the next three years.
The group is headed by Head of Biocontrol Lab, Associate Professor Polina Galitskaya.
Dr. Galitskaya commented on the project, “After petroleum contamination microorganisms capable of dissolving hydrocarbons provide the self-cleaning of soils in cases of insignificant pollution. They switch from soil hydrocarbons to petroleum hydrocarbons. Petroleum hydrocarbons are, in essence, food for these microbes, but they are also toxins for them in large quantities. If concentration is too high, they will all die, but if it is sufficiently low, then soil can self-decontaminate”.
KFU team wants to find out whether hydrocarbon-oxidizing community structure depends on soil properties. They also want to explore the growth of new populations which acquired hydrocarbon-related properties as a result of horizontal gene transfer. New technologies of soil decontamination may arise as results of this research.
«We are now working on a fundamental task – to explore the mechanism of how these communities form and develop. Such knowledge can then be used for applied tasks which are not a part of our project – how to implement soil decontamination technologies after petroleum pollution», said Dr. Galitskaya.
She also noted that grant funding will be allocated to equipment, lab supplies, salaries, and travel expenses.