Principal Investigator
Laura Guimarães

Leader Institution

Research Teams


BiodivRestore Confund Call 2020

BioReset: Biodiversity restoration and conservation of inland water ecosystems for environmental and human well-being

Pollution is threatening the biodiversity of inland waters that are vital to society and the future of the Earth. A major source of this pollution are effluent discharges from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Treatment processes used in WWTPs do not efficiently remove emerging contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals and microplastics, which lead to health hazards to non-target species, including humans. This polluting source limits the conservation and restoration of freshwater systems. At the same, there is a need for strategies for up-scaling restoration solutions and for rapid and simple to use methodologies to assess conservation and restoration progress; i.e. assessment strategies anticipating the success of conservation/remediation measures in suitable timescales, ensuring reliable data comparison over time and space, and guiding intervention measures. So, the BioReset project proposes to advance treatment processes (chemical, physical, biological and their combination) to promote ecosystem recovery and conservation and to develop assessment strategies. Diatoms will be used to model ecosystem conservation and restoration since their communities show high levels of biodiversity. The diatoms will provide an expeditious method to compare different recovery strategies and water treatment processes, allowing to address timescale and key conservation/restoration questions. The full environmental, economic, and social viability of the upgraded and innovative treatment technologies will be assessed using Life Cycle Analysis and SWOT assessments. Based on this knowledge, scale-up studies in geographically different sites (Portugal and Spain) to ascertain the technical and economic feasibility at a larger scale will be performed and recommended action guidelines will be issued. Furthermore, BioReset also envisages the creation of a representative space-time picture of the presence of emerging contaminants in inland waters and its correlation to effects on diatom communities. For this, powerful analytical techniques, such as gas- and liquid chromatography, will be used. Besides these methods, and to obtain real-time information, miniaturized analytical platforms that can perform fast and on-site monitoring will also be employed.