The MEM group was founded around research themes of environmental microbiology and microbial ecology. We apply culture-independent molecular tools, together with traditional cultivation techniques, to explore the microbial diversity and its effects in different environments. We are located at the University of Helsinki (Department of Biosciences, General Microbiology) at the Viikki Biocenter 1.
Bacterial degradation of organic pollutants and elucidation of plasmid functions in Sphingomonas (Alphaproteobacteria) have been studied with both culture dependent and independent methods. Effects of heavy metal pollution on archaeal and actinomycetal communities were investigated in Finnish forest soil humus. The work in bioremediation led to the development of phytotechnologies (use of woody plants) for petroleum hydrocarbon remediation taking advantage of plant-associated microbes. Climate change prompted the pioneering microbial ecology studies of methanogens in Finnish peatlands and GHG turnover and lately initiation of studies of constructed wetlands in Urban Oases project. Agrotechnology adjusting to climate change influencing microbial diversity in agricultural soil has been studied by omics’ tools. The problem of soil heterogeneity in bioremediation has been addressed in spatial analysis of hydrocarbon polluted soils using geostatistical analysis and bioinformatics.