BIOREMediation of heavy metal contaminated sites in Peru and Nicaraguas ÖAD/OEZA; Irene Lichtscheidl (2011-2014)

BIOREM is an academic partnership between the Universities UNAN-Nicaragua, UNASAM-Peru, UNIVIE-Austria and the environmental company GeoRisk-Austria. The overall goal of BIOREM is to strengthen the capacities of all partners in the field of bioremediation of toxic soil that has been contaminated by heavy metals. Our research objective is to use microorganisms and plants to develop cost-efficient and sustainable measures for soil remediation at contaminated sites, especially mining areas, in distinct climatic zones of the earth in Europe (Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania) and America (Nicaragua and Peru). This will be facilitated by research in microbiology (UNAN-Laboratories, UNIVIE), plant uptake (UNASAM, UNIVIE) and (hydro)geochemistry (UNAN-IGG/CIGEO, GeoRisk). The co-operation will provide a speed-up of existing bioremediation techniques and will create a tool-box to end-users with microbes and plants for remediation actions in different climatic, geological and biological settings that will allow for low-cost, sustainable, on-site bioremediation.In order to ascertain the continuation of the remediation measures in UNAN and UNASAM that will be started during BIOREM, groups of experts must be created in UNAN and UNASAM who will proceed and even expand soil rehabilitation beyond this program.  This will be realized by exchange of experts, development of a scientific bioremediation database, analysis of plants and microbes, establishment of a bioremediation network website, mutual exchange of plants and microorganisms, mutual field research, and innovative education programs (e.g. streaming technology, eLearning platforms).Exchange of knowledge will take place mainly during common excursions and field work (UNAN, UNASAM, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania), during individual training of young researchers in the partner labs, during net-work-wide meetings (kick-off, mid-term, final), and from involvement of external partners who are willing to share their expertise. Dissemination of results will be ensured by presentations in the final congress, by publications in popular and scientific journals, and by summarizing them on the BIOREM website and in an open-access database about heavy metal tolerant organisms and their habitats; at the same time, the introduction of a concerted, internationalized education curriculum of interdisciplinary trained PhD students in the participating countries will ascertain a long-lasting, sustainable education profile and curriculum with relevance to soil remediation.Government agencies in Nicaragua and Peru will be involved to provide them with combined guidelines. The project will focus on ecotoxicological risks resulting from mining contamination on-site as well as by transport through water paths in ground water. The local population in UNAN and UNASAM will be included in our research from the start, we want to learn from their experience and culture and we want to improve the quality of their soil.