The Lab of Environmental and Urban Ecology (EUREC-A) of Prof. Dr. Ir. Roeland Samson focuses on three major research topics:
- The first research topic deals with environmental plant ecophysiology. This topic is considered from leaf till canopy level, and focusses on the ecophysiological characterization of (sub-)tropical multi-purpose tree species in response to environmental factors as e.g. drought and salinity, in the framework of food security and domestication.
- A second research topic is on biomonitoring of air pollution with the aim to develop reliable biomonitoring strategies that can be used in developed as well as developing countries
- A third research topic is on urban ecology, with study topics on e.g. urban green, urban biogeochemical cycles and urban agriculture especially in relation to air pollution.
Research of the Lab of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology of Prof. Dr. Ir. Sarah Lebeer, aims to gain more insights in the modulatory role of environmental microbes and air pollution on human health, by the application of molecular microbiological and immunological techniques. Hereto, the research is currently focusing on three major research themes:
- A first major topic focuses on the immunomodulatory capacity, anti-pathogenic action and other beneficial capacities of lactobacilli, present in fermented foods, pharmaceutical supplements, human gastro-intestinal tract, vagina and nasopharyngeal capacity. Hereby, special attention goes to the cell surface molecules of lactobacilli (proteins, lipoteichoic acid, polysaccharides, glycoproteins, pili, etc.) and their interaction with immune receptors.
- A second topic investigates environmental microbes present in the air and on plants (phyllosphere bacteria) in relation to air pollution and the hygiene hypothesis. Hereby, special attention goes to the development of molecular methods to monitor the diversity and activity of these microbes (bioremediation, immunomodulation, etc.).
- A third topic focuses on the monitoring of microbial endotoxins (such as lipopolysaccharides) in relation to air pollution. Hereby, special attention goes to the development of specific bioassays (e.g. in cell lines).