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EAWAG, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology


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Life Sciences - Chemistry - 18.07.2022
Virtual fish instead of animal testing
Virtual fish instead of animal testing
As part of a new national research programme that aims to replace animal experiments in research, the National Science Foundation is supporting a project at Eawag. This opens up new possibilities for determining the toxicity of chemical substances based solely on tests with cultured cells and computer models.

Health - Life Sciences - 18.07.2022
Monitoring SARS-CoV-2 mutations thanks to wastewater sampling and bioinformatics
A study published today in Nature Microbiology highlights the great advantage of wastewater monitoring as being rapid, unbiased and cost-effective: the detection of genomic variants of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater offers an early alert and can be based on fewer samples as compared to clinical samples. The bioinformatics tool developed by the groups of Niko Beerenwinkel and Tanja Stadler (ETH, Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering) in collaboration with Eawag and EPFL identifies variants of concern even at low abundance.

Environment - Innovation - 07.07.2022
'A holistic view of the catchment area is needed'
’A holistic view of the catchment area is needed’
On 15 September, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, an Eawag Info Day will be held once again, dedicated to new technologies for monitoring surface waters. Physicist Damien Bouffard, Head of the Aquatic Physics Group at Eawag, was involved in its conception and explains in an interview what new opportunities and challenges these technologies bring.

Environment - Agronomy / Food Science - 16.06.2022
Responses to climate change: Carefully weigh up the consequences for water bodies
Responses to climate change: Carefully weigh up the consequences for water bodies
It is no secret that climate change has a serious impact on the quality and ecology of aquatic environments. Researchers at Eawag have revealed that human responses to climate change are just as impactful on our water systems - for example, in the areas of agriculture and hydropower. When thermometers in California recorded scorching temperatures in the summer of 2000, even the salmon in Klamath River felt the effects.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 31.05.2022
Water treatment plants would be ready for the removal of nanoplastics
Water treatment plants would be ready for the removal of nanoplastics
The biologically active, slow-flow sand filters of lake water treatment would remove nanoplastics from the raw water very efficiently. This was shown both in the laboratory and in larger, realistic tests and modelling. It's a hot topic, at least on social media: tiny plastic particles allegedly end up not only in oceans and lakes, but also in drinking water - and, yes, even in bottled mineral water.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 09.05.2022
Assess and predict the quality of drinking water
Assess and predict the quality of drinking water
Oliver Schilling is newly appointed Professor of Hydrogeology at the University of Basel, where he is setting up a research group that is also associated with the Eawag Water Resources and Drinking Water Department in Dübendorf. This dual affiliation is perfect, says Schilling. Oliver Schilling spends most of his working time at the University of Basel, where he has been gathering his research group around him as a new assistant professor of hydrogeology since the beginning of March.

Chemistry - Environment - 04.05.2022
Urine treatment: from trial and error to exciting innovation
Urine treatment: from trial and error to exciting innovation
What has been a purification process in wastewater treatment plants for decades can also be used decentrally or semi-centrally as a recycling process for nutrients. Early separation of "solid and liquid" plays a key role here. It allows for flexible solutions in terms of process technology, especially in the treatment of urine.

Environment - Pharmacology - 02.05.2022
Bioassays evaluate ozonation and post-treatment of wastewater
Bioassays evaluate ozonation and post-treatment of wastewater
Through wastewater, rivers and lakes are polluted with numerous micropollutants which originate from care products and pharmaceuticals, among other things. The Waters Protection Act therefore aims to expand Swiss wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) with the addition of a further treatment step. In pilot tests, two processes have proven particularly successful in the removal of trace substances: ozonation and treatment with activated carbon.

Environment - Computer Science - 26.04.2022
Less animal testing thanks to machine learning
Less animal testing thanks to machine learning
Countless chemical substances, including fertilisers and pesticides but also pharmaceutical substances and industrial products, leak into groundwater, lakes and rivers. "We want to know what the impact of these chemicals is on aquatic species, and whether they are toxic or not," says Marco Baity-Jesi, Head of the Eawag Data Science Group.

Health - Environment - 14.04.2022
Chlorine in drinking water influences children's intestinal flora
Chlorine in drinking water influences children’s intestinal flora
Chlorine is deadly for many microorganisms and is therefore used to disinfect drinking water. But what does chlorinated water do to the intestinal flora of young children, which yet has to develop? An international team led by Amy J. Pickering from University of California in Berkeley and Timothy R. Julian from the Swiss Aquatic Research Institute Eawag examined stool samples from 130 children from a larger study in Bangladesh (see box).

Environment - 12.04.2022
Recovering energy from faeces
Recovering energy from faeces
The difference couldn't be starker: In Switzerland, 97 per cent of households are connected to central wastewater treatment plants, whereas three billion people worldwide have no connection to a sewage system at all - predominantly in low-income countries. Understandably, these two very different realities call for different solutions when it comes to sewage disposal.

Environment - 11.04.2022
How can invasive species be detected swiftly?
How can invasive species be detected swiftly?
"I would never have thought that this species would be so widespread," states Rosetta Blackman, a postdoctoral researcher at the aquatic research institute Eawag. She is referring to the peach blossom jellyfish (Craspedacusta sowerbii), a small freshwater jellyfish that is harmless to humans. It originates from the Yangtze River basin in China and is considered an invasive species in Switzerland.

Life Sciences - Environment - 07.04.2022
Role of fish in mixing and spreading nutrients in coastal waters revealed
Role of fish in mixing and spreading nutrients in coastal waters revealed
A new study has shown how fish influence oceans- ecosystems in coastal regions, revealing for the first time the role they play in distributing heat, nutrients and oxygen that keep the system functioning. Oceans are made up of multiple layers, ranging from lighter, warmer waters at the top to denser, cooler waters at the bottom.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 29.03.2022
Restoring dammed rivers using artificial floods
Restoring dammed rivers using artificial floods
Naturally, water levels of rivers and streams are variable and fluctuate between drier and wetter periods. Spring snowmelt and the timing and location of rainfall events often drive these fluctuations, especially in alpine areas. Sediment and adsorbed nutrients are mobilised by flowing water and transported through river valleys.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 22.03.2022
'Groundwater, the invisible treasure'
’Groundwater, the invisible treasure’
Groundwater serves as drinking water for around half of the world's population and provides water for over 40 percent of the world's agriculture. So, there is no question that groundwater research plays an important role at Eawag. The aquatic research institute deals with groundwater quality, the regeneration of groundwater, geochemical processes in the subsurface and the treatment of groundwater to produce drinking water , both nationally and internationally.

Life Sciences - 07.03.2022
Microbial cleaning crew scours sewage plants
Microbial cleaning crew scours sewage plants
Ciliates and rotifers are the 'cleaners' in sewage treatment plants. That is the result of a study by Jule Freudenthal and Kenneth Dumack from the University of Cologne's Institute of Zoology, together with their Swiss colleagues Feng Ju and Helmut Bürgmann from the aquatic research institute Eawag.

Life Sciences - Environment - 24.02.2022
Legacy of extinct species is retained in genomes of their extant relatives
Legacy of extinct species is retained in genomes of their extant relatives
The carefully labelled paper bags look fairly plain, but they are actually a piece of luck for research. They contain historical scale samples, collected on a regular basis from all Lake Constance whitefish species by fisheries authorities for more than 100 years to determine age and growth rates. David Frei, from Eawag's Fish Ecology and Evolution Department, was able to extract genetic material from these scales collected from whitefish that lived in Lake Constance around 90 years ago.

Environment - Social Sciences - 08.02.2022
Citizen Science: Knowledge as a weapon in the fight for clean water
Citizen Science: Knowledge as a weapon in the fight for clean water
There is too much nickel, too much arsenic and far too much manganese. The research project by Désirée Ruppen, who is doing her doctorate at the aquatic research institute Eawag and the ETH Zurich, provides watertight proof for the first time of what everyone on the ground already knew. The Deka River in the Hwange district is heavily polluted by coal mining and the coal-fired power plant, and is a serious health risk for the people who drink its water or fish in it.

Health - Life Sciences - 04.02.2022
A bacteria-killing helper against hospital-acquired infections
Bacteriophages are viruses that look like lunar modules. But instead of landing peacefully on celestial bodies, they dock onto bacteria to destroy them a short time later. They need the bacteria as hosts in order to reproduce: By injecting their DNA, they make the bacteria produce new phages until they finally burst.

Life Sciences - Environment - 01.02.2022
Revealing the genetic code of Europe's species diversity
Revealing the genetic code of Europe’s species diversity
Like a building plan, reference genomes provide a nearly complete genetic code of an organism, acting as a representative example of the entire species. "Comparisons of other genome sequence data with such a reference genome allow, for example, to describe in detail the variety of genetic differences amongst individuals of a species," explains Philine Feulner, Group Leader of the Department of Fish Ecology and Evolution at Eawag.
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