• Volcanoes – Nature’s architects

Let’s talk volcanoes! Are we close to being able to monitor and predict volcanic activity in real time? In this episode of CORDIScovery we take a look at what crystals in magma can tell us, hear what it takes to make lava flow in a lab, and find out about the well-named ‘extremophile’ bacteria that thrive in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

When not monitoring volcanic activity in the field, Stephan Kolzenburg, who took part in the DYNAVOLC project, is recreating lava flow in his lab to model and predict how lava and magma will behave during an eruption.

Jane Scarrow is also working on ways to predict eruptions and how they will evolve. Her VESPER project looked at processes in magmatic reservoirs beneath active volcanoes, and she has also been involved in the response to the Palma eruption.

What can bacteria that live in some of the world’s most inhospitable environments reveal about how methane is fixed in our atmosphere? Huub Op den Camp worked on the VOLCANO project, the findings of which could improve our climate models.


  • ethane-eating microbes discovered in canals of Amsterdam

According to researchers from Radboud University and Utrecht University, Amsterdam's canals emit relatively little methane. Methane-eating microbes that make their home on the canal walls probably play an important role. There is also remarkably little contamination of nitrogen, phosphate and organic matter in the canals. The researchers published the results in the Environmental Microbiology journal on 14 December.


Researchers know well that shallow waters such as lakes, rivers and canals are a source of methane. This greenhouse gas is estimated to have 86 times more effect on global warming than CO2. However, little is known about the microbes that cause methane emission and sequestration in urban canals.

Microbiologists from Radboud University and Utrecht University are now studying this, starting with the canals of Amsterdam. They took samples from the canal water, canal bed silt and canal walls at locations along the Bloemgracht canal, Prinsengracht canal, Amstel river, Amstel locks and Artis zoo. Surprisingly, the canals they studied emitted relatively little methane. The reason, the researchers conclude, is that the water and the canal walls are rich in methane-eating microbes.

"We found a new species of bacteria living on the canal walls that consumes methane. This bacterium, which lives in a slime layer on the wall, is probably helping to sequester the methane produced in the canals," explains microbiologist Koen Pelsma. "Moreover, relatively little methane is released from the canal bed. The reason for this is that relatively little organic material, such as dead plant matter, is deposited there. Such matter rots on the bed of the canal, and bacteria convert it into methane gas in the process."

"The canals are actually quite clean. There was surprisingly little contamination of nitrogen and phosphate and we measured oxygen levels that were sufficient for fish to live in the water. This is probably because the wastewater treatment plants in the Netherlands are relatively effective."

The fact that methane-eating microbes have been found living in Amsterdam's canal walls opens up interesting possibilities. The microbes live on the section of wall that is under water. "If you could increase the surface area of the section of canal habitat where this bacterium lives, you could potentially use it as a methane filter," says microbiologist Cornelia Welte.

The next step for the researchers is to study the canals in other cities. "We already have plans to sample the canals of Delft and Utrecht," says Pelsma. "We expect that the situation in each canal will be different."
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam)

  • Veni grant for Paula Dalcin Martins

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded a Veni grant to eight young researchers of the Radboud University and the Radboud university medical center. With this grant of up to 280.000 euro they can further elaborate their own ideas during a period of three years.

pauladalcin (1)

Veni is aimed at excellent researchers who recently obtained their doctorate. Together with Vidi and Vici, Veni is part of the NWO Talent Programme, and is awarded every year. 89 Veni grants for the domains ENW and ZonMw have been awarded, of which eight are going to researchers at Radboud University and the Radboud university medical center. The grants for the domains SGW and TTW will be announced in april 2022.

Unravelling and quantifying the impacts of viruses on greenhouse gas emissions from soils

Viruses in soils infect diverse forms of life. However, it is not known how this impacts soil health and greenhouse gas emissions. This research will reveal the identity and role of soil viruses. This knowledge will help to counteract climate change.


Nieuws – 9 april 2020

  • De noodzaak van brede maatschappelijke kennis over de microbiologie Nederlandse versie door

Mike Jetten en Marien de Jonge, Radboud Universiteit en
Radboudumc, Nijmegen

Microben en hun activiteiten hebben een allesomvattende, opmerkelijk diepgaande en veelal positieve effecten op het functioneren, en dus op de gezondheid en het welzijn, van de mens, de hele biologische wereld, en zelfs het volledige aardoppervlak en de atmosfeer. Microben vormen collectief het levensondersteunende systeem van de biosfeer, in belangrijke mate in samenwerking met de zon. Daarom verdienen ze de nodige aandacht.


  • Elektriciteit opwekken uit afvalwater is mogelijk met anammox-bacteriën

Anammox-bacteriën kunnen verleid worden tot het maken van elektriciteit uit afvalwater, door ze te laten groeien op elektroden in afwezigheid van nitriet. Dat blijkt uit nieuw onderzoek van microbiologen aan de Radboud Universiteit samen met collega’s uit de Verenigde Staten en Saudi-Arabië, dat is verschenen in Nature Communications. Het is het laatste puzzelstukje in een lange wetenschappelijke zoektocht van hoofdonderzoeker Mike Jetten naar ‘onmogelijke reacties’.

Foto van anammox op electrodes © Dario Rangel Shaw KAUST

Extracellular electron transfer-dependent anaerobic oxidation of ammonium by anammox bacteria, Nature Communications
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Mike Jetten,, 024 3652940
Persvoorlichting & Wetenschapscommunicatie Radboud Universiteit,, 024 361 6000