Metodi integrati di Analisi Microbiologica ed Isotopica (MIAMI) – Fingerprinting

Microbiological analyses and isotopic fingerprinting integrated approach (MIAMI)

Chlorinated ethenes (CEs) are common groundwater pollutants of concern that pose significant health risks to both wildlife and humans. Consequently, appropriate remediation strategies are required as well as procedures for monitoring the biodegradation process in situ. The biological degradation of highly chlorinated solvents such as tetrachloroethene (or perchloroethene, PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) occurs mostly under strictly anaerobic (chemically reducing) conditions. The anaerobic reductive process relies on the presence of specific bacterial strains able to transform PCE to TCE, cis-dichloroethylene (cis-DCE), vinyl chloride (VC) and ethene via a sequential dechlorination process and, on the presence of organic substrates (electron donors) generating hydrogen through fermentation processes.

Therefore, a detailed site characterization is critical to evaluate, at first, the intrinsic remediation of the contaminated aquifer (natural attenuation) and, then the potential of enhancing the reductive dehalogenation process (biostimulation).

In this framework, the MIAMI project aims at fostering the application of an innovative “toolbox” based on an integrated approach that combines molecular biology tools (MBTs) and Compound-Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA) for the characterization, remediation and management of contaminated groundwater. In particular, a standardized multidisciplinary procedure based on these advanced techniques will be developed in order to promote the bioremediation as a sustainable remediation technology in terms of both environmental impact and management costs.

In details:

  1. MBTs (Next Generation Sequencing, quantitative PCR, etc.) will be used to gain insights into microbial community structure, dynamics and functionality;
  2. CSIA will be applied to gain important information about how (pathway) and how much (the extent) a contaminant is biodegraded.

The MIAMI project, supported by ENI-Syndial S.p.A., will target three Italian contaminated sites (Siti di Interesse Nazionale – similar to Superfund in USA).


  • University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences;
  • Politecnico di Milano, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering;
  • ENI S.p.A., Research & Technological Innovation Department, San Donato Milanese (MI).

In collaboration with Isotope Tracer Technologies Inc., Waterloo, Canada.