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Alba Martinez I Quer

PhD Student

Alba Martinez I Quer


Ph.D. project: Constructed wetlands for the treatment of cyanotoxins

University: Aarhus University
Department: Department of Environmental Science

Section: Section for Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Microbiology and Circular Resource Flow

Supervisor(s):   Anders Johansen
(Co-supervisor(s):) Pedro Carvalho, Carlos Alberto Arias
Project term:  01.03.2021 – 01.03.2024
Master’s degree:  MEng in Sustainable Biotechnology, specialization in microbial biodegradation and bioremediation processes, Aalborg Universitet, Denmark



Events of drought and higher temperatures are occurring more often in our environment. This, together with the increased use of fertilizer in agriculture, is leading to eutrophication and a shortage of freshwater resources. Water withdrawing for agricultural usage accounts globally for around 72% of the total surface and groundwater extraction. When episodes of water scarcity occur, more vulnerable populations are forced to irrigate their crops with cyanotoxin-polluted water.

Constructed wetlands (CW) are attractive biotechnology used for the bioremediation of different water pollutants. It is a cost-effective mechanism, and it does not require much infrastructure, which makes it a suitable facility for all types of budgets. Some preliminary studies point out their capacity for cyanotoxin removal. However, little is known about the cyanotoxins transformation products, the impact of cyanotoxins blooms in the CW ecosystem, and the detailed removal mechanisms. 



We test the application of vertical flow (VF) CWs, as attractive biotechnology to treat water for irrigation. Initially, we will focus on different types of cyanotoxins. We set up different mesocosms VF CWs systems to treat cyanotoxins-polluted water while recycling the nutrients (P, N) for crop irrigation. We want to disclose the main mechanisms and transformation products underlying cyanotoxin degradation. Also, we want to perform different metagenomic studies in our natural-occurring microbial community and establish their main evolutive drivers to understand optimal performance. Moreover, designing specialized CWs systems to fulfill our purposes will also be considered.


This research is an interdisciplinary project that will combine analytical chemistry targeted analysis for quantification of the cyanotoxins, non-targeted analytical chemistry analysis to disclose the transformation products, molecular biology techniques to study the microbial community and their evolutionary drivers, and environmental engineering for optimization of the running systems.


University of Pereira, Colombia

LIMNOS - Company for applied ecology d.o.o., Slovenia

Kilian Water ApS, Denmark


Research areas

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ID: 205970178