The research team of Professor Peter Rådström, Professor Kenneth Persson, and Dr. Catherine Paul is using next generation DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, multivariate analysis and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to describe the groups of bacteria present in the biofilm communities associated with drinking water production and distribution. Biofilm samples are obtained from real drinking water distribution and production systems in Skåne. The project of doctoral student Katharina Lührig seeks to determine if different bacterial communities are associated with different water qualities, as perceived by the consumer, and resulted in the publication "Bacterial Communities in Drinking Water Biofilms" in 2016.
In May 2014, doctoral student Sandy Chan began to examine if there are differences in the bacterial communities of infiltration ponds and slow sand filters which produce drinking water. Physical factors such as pond size, pipe diameter, season or sun exposure will be correlated together with the genetic profile of the biofilm community to see if changing the physical factors can influence or optimize the quality of the drinking water produced. Future research will include building model drinking water purification ecosystems at both the lab and pilot scale to see how bacterial biofilm communities respond to changes in temperature, and specific pathogen or toxin challenges. Her result was published as her dissertation "Processes governing the drinking water microbiome" in 2018.
By understanding the biological and physical components that form the ecosystem we can ensure the continued safe production and delivery of drinking water; and ultimately optimize, monitor and engineer the biofilms and the ecosystem service they provide.