Katharina Kujala

Katharina Kujala

Dr. rer. nat.

Biography

I am a microbial ecologist and a PostDoc researcher in the Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Research Unit. My main field of interest lies in ecological microbiology of peatland/wetland habitats, especially in those affected by cold-climate or by high concentrations of contaminants like metals, metalloids, nitrogen and sulfur.

Research interests

  • What microbially catalyzed processes occur in the studied peatlands?
  • How are those processes affected by challenging environmental conditions?
  • Who are the microbial key players involved in the processes?
  • How are microbial activity and community composition affected by the harsh winter conditions encountered in Northern Finland?
  • How can we utilize microbes adapted to challenging conditions (e.g. in wastewater treatment)?

Current activities:

At the moment, I am mainly involved in three projects:

  1. Year-round functioning of Northern peatlands treating mine wastewaters with special focus on the winter time (MVTT, 2015-2017): In this project the main focus lies on the functioning of treatment peatlands throughout the   year. The peatlands and their purification efficiencies are monitored throughout the year. Special attention is paid to winter time phenomena (e.g. ground temperatures, ground-frost   depth, snow and ice cover). The (active) microbial community in the peatlands is followed throughout the year by applying DNA- and RNA-based fingerprinting techniques. The effect of temperature on processes like respiration, sulfate reduction and denitrification is assessed in laboratory incubations.
  2. Microbial transformations of arsenic and antimony in Northern natural peatlands treating mine wastewaters (Finnish Academy, 2015-2018): In this project I focus on peatland microorganisms that can utilize arsenic and antimony in their metabolism. Studied groups include dissimilatory arsenate/antimonate reducers, arsenite/antimonite oxidizers, and arsenic/antimony tolerating microorganims. Process potentials and the effect of environmental parameters is assessed in incubation studies, while the identification of arsenic/antimony metabolizing microorganisms is targeted with molecular approaches (e.g. Next Generation Sequencing) and enrichment/isolation of the microorganisms of interest.
  3. Optimization of wetlands used for mine wastewater purification under Northern climatic conditions (Nessling, 2016-2018): This is the PhD project of Uzair Khan which is supervised by Anna-Kaisa Ronkanen and me. The project targets adsorption and desorption of contaminants in peatlands and the underlying processes. The project combines fieldwork, laboratory experiments and modelling approaches.

Research groups

  • Postdoctoral researcher, Water Resources and Environmental Engineering

Selected publications

  • Palmer, Katharina; Ronkanen, Anna-Kaisa; Klöve, Björn (2015) Efficient removal of arsenic, antimony and nickel from mine wastewaters in Northern treatment peatlands and potential risks in their long-term use. - Ecological engineering 75, 350-364
  • Palmer, Katharina; Karlsson, Teemu; Turunen, Kaisa; Räisänen, Marja-Liisa; Backnäs, Soile (2015) Nitrogen removal in northern peatlands treating mine wastewaters. (Abstrakti (Ei KOTAan)). - 12th EGU General Assembly 2016, 17 – 22 April 2016, Vienna, Austria. Geophysical Research Abstracts 17. 1, EGU2015-1757. [Original]
  • Palmer, Katharina; Ronkanen, Anna-Kaisa; Klöve, Björn; Hynynen, Jenna; Maljanen, Marja (2015) Impact of mine wastewaters on greenhouse gas emissions from northern peatlands used for mine water treatment. (Abstrakti (Ei KOTAan)). - 12th EGU General Assembly 2016, 17 – 22 April 2016, Vienna, Austria. Geophysical Research Abstracts 17. 1. [Original]
  • Palmer, Katharina; Ronkanen, Anna-Kaisa; Klöve, Björn (2014) Flow paths and metal sorption in peatlands polishing mine waters. (Abstrakti (Ei KOTAan)). - Water Research at the University of Oulu. Proceedings of the WaRes Conference, August 15th, 2013, University of Oulu, Finland. Ponrácz, Eva; Pruikkonen, Heidi. Ei sarjaa/No series. Oulu, University of Oulu; Thule Institute, Centre of Northern Environmental Technology. 55
  • Palmer, Katharina; Horn, Marcus A. (2015) Denitrification Activity of a Remarkably Diverse Fen Denitrifier Community in Finnish Lapland Is N-Oxide Limited. - PLoS One 10 (4), e0123123 . [Original] [Self-archived]
  • Palmer, Katharina; Köpp, Julia; Gebauer, Gerhard; Horn, Marcus A. (2016) Drying-Rewetting and Flooding Impact Denitrifier Activity Rather than Community Structure in a Moderately Acidic Fen. - Frontiers in microbiology 7, 727 . [Original]
  • Brenzinger, Kristof; Kujala, Katharina; Horn, Marcus A.; Moser, Gerald; Guillet, Cecile; Kammann, Claudia; Müller, Christoph; Braker, Gesche (2017) Soil Conditions Rather Than Long-Term Exposure to Elevated CO2 Affect Soil Microbial Communities Associated with N-Cycling. - Frontiers in microbiology 8, 1976 . [Original] [Self-archived]
  • Palmer, Katharina; Ronkanen, Anna-Kaisa; Klöve, Björn (2014) Turvekosteikot kaivosvesien käsittelyssä. - Vesitalous 55 (5), 15-18

Research visits

  • First research visit at the University of Bayreuth, Environmental Geochemistry Group
    1.10.2016 to 5.11.2016

    In my Finnish Academy project " Microbial transformations of arsenic and antimony in Northern natural peatlands treating mine wastewaters (Finnish Academy, 2015-2018) " I cooperate with the Environmental Geochemistry group of Prof. Britta Planer-Friedrich at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. Research visits are included in the cooperation. In October 2016, I spent some weeks in their lab testing the potential of peat soil to oxidize or reduce arsenic/antimony compounds.

  • Second research visit at the University of Bayreuth, Environmental Geochemistry Group
    25.3.2017 to 22.4.2017

    In my Finnish Academy project " Microbial transformations of arsenic and antimony in Northern natural peatlands treating mine wastewaters (Finnish Academy, 2015-2018) " I cooperate with the Environmental Geochemistry group of Prof. Britta Planer-Friedrich at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. Research visits are included in the cooperation. In spring 2017, I spent some weeks in their lab testing effect of changing environmental conditions on the potential of peat soil to oxidize and reduce arsenic/antimony compounds.

  • Research visits at the University of Jyväskylä, Department of Biological and Environmental Science
    1.11.2015

    In my Finnish Academy project " Microbial transformations of arsenic and antimony in Northern natural peatlands treating mine wastewaters (Finnish Academy, 2015-2018) " I cooperate with the Department of Biological and Environmental Science (Prof. Marja Tiirola, Dr. Anu Mikkonen) at the University of Jyväskylä. Research visits are included in the cooperation. Starting in 2015, I have been to Jyväskylä on several short research visits (1-3 weeks duration per visit).