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OnlineDNA - Enhanced performance of environmental biotechnology systems through online DNA surveillance of microbial communities

In the OnlineDNA project we will apply novel DNA technologies in a new way in order to enable fast and reliable on site identification and quantification of the important members of a given microbial community, and we will integrate this information into online surveillance and control systems for wastewater treatment. This will allow diagnosis of system failure and provide diagnostics for informed guidance on early stage interventions, operational decisions and process optimizations. The technology development will focus on the most common operational challenges within biological wastewater treatment:

  • Poor settling (bulking sludge, foam formation)
  • Biological P removal
  • Anammox processes for nitrogen-removal

The project will provide novel knowledge and tools for transforming simple wastewater treatment plants into resource producing facilities, and will open numerous avenues for the application of microbial communities to help solve the “grand challenges” of various biotechnologies.

Related Projects

Work packages


  • WP1. Development of an on-site DNAsensor
  • WP2. Development of novel control platform
  • WP3. Setting and foaming – Decision rules and control strategies
  • WP 4. Biological removal of P – Decision rules and control strategies
  • WP 5. N-removal - Decision rules and control strategies
  • WP 6. Showcase
  • WP 7. Knowledge dissemination

Steering committee

Members of the OnlineDNA management committee, who are responsible for coordinating the different work packages and partner contributions:

  • Per Halkjær Nielsen (Principal Investigator), Section of Biotechnology, AAU
  • Erik Bundgaard, Krüger AS (Chairman of the Steering Group)
  • Dines Thornberg, BIOFOS, Copenhagen
  • Ivan Vølund, VandCenter Syd, Odense
  • Helle Strandbæk, Aalborg Forsyning
  • Per Overgaard Pedersen, Aarhus Vand A/S
  • Marta Nierychlo (Scientific Coordinator), Section of Biotechnology, AAU


The project is funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark for a period of 4 years from 2017-2021 as well as Krüger A/S, BIOFOS, VandCenter Syd, Aalborg Forsyning, Kloak A/S and Aarhus Vand A/S.

Project leader

Professor: Per Halkjær Nielsen
Center for Microbial Communities
Section of Biotechnology, Aalborg University
Email: phn@bio.aau.dk 
Mobile: (45) 2173 5089


Staff Scientist: Marta Nierychlo
Section of Biotechnology, Aalborg University
Mobile: (45) 6172 3721
E-mail: mni@bio.aau.dk