The project

The project

A pilot study will be performed in the facilities of AFESA Medio Amiente S.A. using dregded Hg contaminated sediments as a proof of concept of the developed MER-CLUB technology.

Main objetives

MER-CLUB will target the largely unexplored diversity of marine Hg detoxifiers, the isolation of novel detoxifying marine strains, and their application in a clean-up system based on immobilized bacteria able to operate in dredged marine sediments.
Combined bioaugmentation and biostimulation strategies will be evaluated and scaled up, from experimental microcosms to a bioreactor pilot study. The clean-up system will serve as a proof of concept for further development and commercial implementation facilitated by strong stakeholder involvement.


WP 1

Coordination of the project (AZTI)

The aim of this WP is to ensure the timely achievement of the objectives and deliverables of MER-CLUB, and an adequate use of the resources allocated to each beneficiary and WP. This WP will include all the activities related to the general management, coordination and communication between of the consortium partners. This WP will also be responsible for communicating with the EC and reporting project progress.

The main objectives will be:

  • To ensure the achievement of MER-CLUB objectives and deliverables avoiding significant delays, and
  • To ensure an adequate use of the resources allocated to each WP. WP1 activities are related to the organization of meetings with all partners of the project, the production of templates for detailed planning/reporting of tasks in each WP, overseeing the deliveries (e.g. publications, website) and the coordination of the participation in conferences and networking.


Omics-based identification of marine genes and microorganisms involved in Hg-detoxification (CSIC)

The main objective in this WP is targeting the largely unexplored diversity of Hg detoxifiers in contaminated marine sediments using omic tools (meta-genomics and -transcriptomics, Single-cell Amplified Genomes).
The expected tasks are providing a comprehensive catalogue of marine sediment genes involved in Hg detoxification by coupling environmental metagenomics and metatranscriptomics with genome sequencing of novel Hg detoxifiers identified through isolation and single-cell sequencing of deep ocean samples and sediments where high proportion of mer genes, involved in Hg detoxification, have been detected.


Isolation and screening of a marine culture collection for potential Hg-detoxifiers (AZTI)

The main objective of this WP is isolate bacterial strains and consortia from Hg-contaminated marine sediments from the Baltic, Mediterranean and Atlantic and to perform a screening in order to find novel isolates with the genetic potential to detoxify Hg by screening of mer genes.


Characterizing the candidate Hg-detoxifying isolates at laboratory scales:
From Batch Cultures To Bioreactors (UAB)

In this WP, a physiologically characterization of 5 candidate Hg-detoxifying strains from marine sediments will be performed at laboratory scale (batch cultures and bioreactors).
First, a selection of 5 potential Hg detoxifying cultures and 2 consortia will be subject of different experiments to characterize their physiology and their detoxification capacity in batch cultures using two different isotopically labeled Hg forms (199Hg2+; Methyl-201Hg).
Second, the Hg detoxification capacity of some selected candidates for Hg detoxification will be optimized using bioreactors with the continuous culture technique. Samples from these experiments will be used to quantify mer genes expression coupled with Hg detoxification rates.


Testing the performance of candidate Hg-detoxifying isolates in Hg-contaminated sediments from small to medium scale:
From Microcosms to Pilot Study (SLU)

The objective of this WP is to perform a proof-of-concept of a Hg clean-up system, during the final stage of the project, using the best candidate isolates or consortia in the bioremediation of Hg-polluted marine sediments. Selection will be based on the results of WP4 and will, at first, be used to simulate bioremediation at small scales (ca 1 – 4kg contaminated sediment) at conditions similar to the original environment.
Different biostimulation strategies will be evaluated to combine them with the bioaugmentation with introduced detoxifiers. Then, a pilot study will be performed at médium scale (40 – 50 kg sediment) for evaluating the bioremediation capacity of the best candidates in a situation closer to a real application. We will test different whole-cell immobilization methods and matrices for the isolates and consortia for the delivery of the microorganisms in the microcosms and pilot study.


Dissemination of Results (AZTI)

The main objectives of WP6 are to provide effective dissemination of the MER-CLUB project objectives, actions and results in order to raise awareness among different groups of stakeholders and build a network to ensure transferability of the results of the project.
This WP is essential for the transference of scientific knowledge to the society and for the implementation of joint efforts and specific and greener solutions. The specific objectives are:

  • To ensure effective external communication, dissemination, and optimal knowledge transfer of project’s objectives, activities and results through a range of communication and dissemination tools to different stakeholders and to the general society,
  • To support the communication activities and design and production of outputs from the different project WPs and,
  • To compile and disseminate new knowledge and outcomes generated within the project and facilitate uptake of results by stakeholders and end users.

Pilot study

A pilot study will be performed in the facilities of AFESA Medio Amiente S.A. using dregded Hg contaminated sediments as a proof of concept of the developed MER-CLUB technology.
These areas of expertise and their large experience will support the implementation of the scientific knowledge generated in MER-CLUB:

  • Disassembly, demolition, scrapping and selective valorisation of industrial facilities (such as chlor-alkali plants),
  • Research and treatment of contaminated soils, aquifers and industrial ruins,
  • Integrated waste management and emergency response.