How the weird and wonderful microbes in wastewater can make our cities more sustainable

Feb 1, 2024


COVID-19 showed us how useful monitoring wastewater can be. But the genetic material in our wastewater, namely DNA and RNA, is a treasure trove of other useful information. It reveals the presence of thousands of different types of weird and wonderful wastewater microbes.

The diversity of these microbes can “talk” to us and tell us how to get more renewable energy out of our wastes. If only we could listen to them. Soon we can.

How will that work? It all starts with our poo. These types of microbes have been used since the 19th century to treat and reduce the ever-increasing volumes of sewage sludge arriving at our wastewater treatment plants, especially in urban areas. Two-thirds of the world’s people are expected to live in urban areas by 2050, hence sewage treatment will be in high demand.

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