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BD Biodiversity


Clostridum botulinum - A risk for agricultural biogas production plants?

Inspection of substrates of a biogas plant for microbiological analyses
© Thünen-Institut/BD
Inspection of substrates of a biogas plant for microbiological analyses

Abundance and diversity of Clostridium in agricultural biogas plants with a specific focus on the detection of Clostridium botulinum

Clostridia are bacteria which are highly abundant in biogas production plants during the fermentation of organic substances. Is it possible, that among those bacteria, also problematic clostridia could grow?

Background and Objective

There are problematic bacteria within the group of Clostridia, these include Clostridium botulinum, the producer of the most toxic biological susbstance known.

The objective of this study was to assess the diversity of clostridia in substrates and fermentating material connected to experimental and agricultural biogas production processes.


  • Extraction of nucleic acids from substrates and fermentation material collected from experimental and agricultural biogas production processes
  • PCR Amplification of Clostridium cluster I sequences
  • Sequencing of PCR products by means of next-generatíon DNA sequencing tools (454 pyrosequencing, Illumina MySeq) 
  • Bioinformatic and phylogenetic analyses of DNA sequences
  • Screening of environmental samples and identification of those with potential risks due to the presence of rRNA genes of suspected pathogens
  • Confirmation of presence of C. botulinum by mouse lethality tests (out of house)

Our Research Questions

Which clostrida occur in which substrates (plant substrates, manure, etc.) and do they have the capacity to grow during biogas fermentation?

Which clostria are involved in biogas fermenation processes and how variable is the composition of the clostridial community?

Can clostridial pathogens and toxin producers be detected in biogas production facilities?


Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Bundesland Niedersachsen
    (national, öffentlich)


9.2011 - 12.2014

More Information

Project status: finished


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