Investigation of Vorticella invasions in the Kalundborg wastewater treatment hos Københavns Universitet


Kalundborg Utility experiences huge problems with invasion of Vorticella-like ciliates. The ciliates clog filters and form dense biofilms on sensors leading to massive problems for the functioning of the treatment plant. These invasions seem to come rapidly and in an unpredictable way and there is a need to explore why the problems occur. This is a collaborative project between University of Copenhagen, Kalundborg Utility ( and Helix Lab (), and you will spend a significant part of your time in Kalundborg (3-6 months). You will become a “Helix Lab fellow” and free housing will be provided when you work in Kalundborg.

The project:

Vorticella-like ciliates are common in wastewater treatment plants. These ciliates occur in two forms: one form that is attached to surfaces with a stalk and another form that is free-swimming (a trophont). What exactly causes the mass attachments of the ciliates in the wastewater treatment at the Kalundborg Utility is presently unknown, and this is what we will explore in this project.

First, there is a need for proper identification of the ciliates. This will be done using molecular techniques (PCR followed by sequence determination). Next, the population dynamics of the ciliate in the treatment plant will be studied (free-living and attached) and related to a number of basic abiotic and biotic parameters that are monitored continuously at the Kalundborg Utility: temperature, O2 tension, pH, particulate organic matter (POC) etc. Such continuous measurements can be supplemented with frequent samplings of prey particle size distribution and concentration. The exact details and specific aims and hypotheses of the project will be discussed during a meeting between the MSc student and the involved partners.

This project is a unique opportunity for a MSc student to work together with the Industry to understand and mitigate these ciliate invasions.

A great deal of the project will take place at the Kalundborg Utility and at the Helix Lab. The Helix Lab gives MSc students the possibility to do master thesis work in collaboration with the Kalundborg industry. Students who are awarded a Helix Lab fellowship get free housing at Kalundborg Kollegium, while they do their thesis work in Kalundborg. Application for a Helix Lab fellowship requires establishment of a project collaboration between a industry specialist, a university supervisor and a MSc student.

Deadline for the project proposal to become a Helix fellow is September 30, 2022. So if you interested let us know very soon. If you cannot make this deadline let us know, then you will be able to meet the next deadline (Spring 2023).

Project supervisors: Per Juel Hansen and Niels Daugbjerg (UCPH-MBS), and Preben Thisgaard (Kalundborg Utility)

Husk at et projektforslag er et oplæg til dialog, hvor du i samarbejde med virksomheden aftaler projektets endelige fokus. Du har mulighed for at foreslå andre relevante problemstillinger eller vinkler, end hvad opslaget umiddelbart lægger op til. Du kan læse mere om projektsamarbejde i Karrierevejledning