MudRobots moved by electroactive bacteria

Have you ever heard about bioelectrogenesis? Electroactive bacteria (from the genus Geobacter or Shewanella, for example) can transfer electrons to electroconductive materials as a new form of respiration where electricity can be harvested or, additionally, accept electrons from those materials so they can be fed using an electrical current as a source of energy.

The artist Paul Granjon is using this process that carry out bacteria from river sediments to create a set of on-board microbial fuel cells and move several small mobile robots inspired from the dung beetle. According to him, the contrast between the primal nature of mud and the highly technological electronics explores possibilities of symbiosis and highlights the sophistication of the microbes compared to the robot.

We had the opportunity to have a small collaboration in this project, helping to identify the electroactive bacteria present in the river sediments using a metabarcoding approach. It is always interesting to take part in such interdisciplinary projects!!

Do not lose the chance to visit the installation, which is part of the PROTOTIPOAK exhibition, until the 16th of September, in Azkuna Zentroa. There are many other instalations (dried plants which move in response to the movement of the wind in Minnesota, a robot that is creating a photorealistic art piece with one single continuous line, etc.) and related activities (such as the artistic residence of Vanessa Lorenzo about the exploration of the microbial inhabitants in the city).


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Presentation of results in NATURADAPT

La semana pasada se realizaron dos presentaciones de los resultados obtenidos en el proyecto NaturAdapt. El primero de ellos fue en el marco de la Comisión de Adaptación al Cambio Climático del Ayuntamiento de Donostia/San Sebastián.

El segundo fue un taller de contraste y validación llevado a cabo en el Departamento de Agricultura del Gobierno de Navarra (Pamplona). Se presentó la metodología utilizada para la cuantificación de las cuatro variables ambientales objeto de estudio en NaturAdapt (i.e., captura de carbono, biodiversidad, confort térmico e inundabilidad). Como ejemplo, se mostraron los resultados obtenidos en el caso de estudio del área de Txomin Enea, en Donostia-San Sebastián. Finalmente, se mostró un borrador de la guía metodológica para la evaluación de la efectividad y el diseño de Soluciones Naturales como medidas de mitigación y adaptación al cambio climático.


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Pint of Science 2018

Lur Epelde had the great pleasure of taking part in the last edition of Pint of Science in Bilbao. Pint of Science is an annual international science festival that takes place every May and brings researchers to local bars to present their scientific discoveries.  Iñigo Azua from the university of the Basque Country and Lur talked about the important ecological functions that carry out microorganisms in both oceans and soils, and also for the production of beer, among many other products! According to Urko, a 10 year old boy who attended the talk, the strategy of the microbial communities is clear: “Climate change is a strategy of microbes, they want us to run out of trees and oxygen and fill up everything with garbage to conquer the world”… in the meantime, long life to initiatives like Pint of Science!!


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Soil Health Cards in the Citizen Science Program of Vitoria-Gasteiz

We are very happy to take part in the Citizen Science Program of the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz with a simplified version of our Soil Health Cards. This program has previous groups dedicated to the study and conservation of orchids, butterflies or birds, for example. From now on, any interested person will be able to use the kits available in Ataria to measure some basic parameters and obtain information about the quality of their soils and agroecosystems. By the way, thanks to all the results obtained, we will be able to have a temporal diagnostic of the conservation status of soils in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Thank you CEA and Ataria for including us in this new adventure!


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Soil and climate change

In collaboration with IHOBE (Basque Environmental Agency) and BC3 (Basque Centre for Climate Change, Basque Country, Spain), we are preparing a document on the interaction between the soil ecosystem and climate change, where we discuss the impact of land management practices currently being used in the rural and urban Basque territory on soil functioning and on the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The document will be part of the Basque Strategy for Soil Protection.

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Impact of sewage sludge

In collaboration with the research teams of Prof. Manu Soto and Prof. Txema Becerril from the University of the Basque Country, we have just started a project on the impact of the application of sewage sludge on soil health. In this project, we pay special attention to the ecotoxicological consequences of such application, using different end-points from microbial, plant and animal species. The project is carried out in a site located in the Basque Country.

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Master on Biodiversity, Function and Ecosystem Management

One more academic year (2017-2018), we participate in the Master on Biodiversity, Function and Ecosystem Management (University of the Basque Country, Spain), coordinating a course on rehabilitation and bioremediation of contaminated soils. Apart from discussing the potential of soil microorganisms for the biological remediation of contaminated sites, during our talks, we strongly emphasize the key role of microorganisms for the functioning of the biosphere as a whole.

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Euskampus Hub on Sustainable and Healthy Territory

Carlos Garbisu is currently a member of the team of experts who are, at the moment, defining the new Euskampus (Campus of Excellence – University of the Basque Country and Tecnalia Corporation) Hub on Sustainable and Healthy Territories. This hub aims to promote research on fostering resilience in the Basque Country Territory against the different sources of environmental stress, with special emphasis on climate change. In this hub, we pay special attention to the connectivity between the terrestrial, river and marine ecosystems.

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News collaborations with CEA and University of the Basque Country

During our visit to Porto (Portugal), we discussed with Juan Vilela and Aitor Albaina from CEA (Centro de Estudios Ambientales, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain) and Txema Becerril from the University of the Basque Country our intention to submit new European proposals on the importance of preserving the unique biodiversity present in many metal contaminated sites, as well as on the importance of fostering biodiversity in phytoremediation and phytomanagement initiatives. Some of these proposals will focus on the links between biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services.

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PhytoSUDOE project: Working Package on Biodiversity

Last week (18th April 2018, Porto), we presented data from some experiments carried out to study the links between microbial diversity and plant and animal (mesofauna, macrofauna) diversity. These experiments are included in Working Package 2 on Biodiversity from the PhytoSUDOE (Interreg) project. We focused our presentation on the links between structural and functional diversity in contaminated and remediated soils. In particular, we presented data obtained in some experimental sites located in Galicia (Spain) and Bordeaux (France), as part of our collaboration with Dr. Petra Kidd (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) and Prof. Michel Mench (INRA), respectively.

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