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German Research Foundation (DFG) extends CRC 'Microplastics' at University of Bayreuth

The German Research Foundation (DFG) will again fund the Collaborative Research Center 1357 'Microplastics' at the University of Bayreuth with approximately 13 million euros over the next four years. Established in 2019, the CRC investigates the increasing contamination of the environment by plastics worldwide and develops innovative solutions to counteract the resulting ecological, health and economic risks. The close linking of interdisciplinary basic research with problem-related application research will enable well-founded risk assessments and further strengthen the transfer of knowledge to the public.

The goal of future research projects of the CRC "Microplastics" is to gain a fundamental understanding of the processes and mechanisms that 1) condition biological effects of MP in limnetic and terrestrial ecosystems as a function of the physical and chemical properties of the particles, 2) influence the migration behavior of MP particles and 3) cause the formation of MP starting from macroscopic plastics, based on model systems for plastics, organisms, and environmental compartments. These findings provide a scientifically sound basis for assessing the environmental risks of MP, as well as for developing environmentally friendly plastics and processes to prevent the emission of MP into the environment.

The questions to be solved are very complex, because microplastics are an extremely heterogeneous group of plastic particles. The particles have very different chemical and physical properties, which are constantly changing due to environmental conditions and the resulting aging processes. „The interdisciplinary research approach of our CRC, which bridges traditional disciplinary boundaries, combined with state-of-the-art research technologies on the Bayreuth campus, has already led to important research results.

Numerous studies concerning, for example, degradation in the environment, the impact of microplastics on living organisms, or the input and transport of particles in soils, water and air have attracted strong international attention and have contributed to the elucidation of fundamental questions. In the coming years, we will continue to advance research on these topics with new project ideas and a growing number of national and international partners," explains the CRC 'Microplastics" spokesperson, Prof. Dr. Christian Laforsch.

All 160 members from different research disciplines of the CRC have access to jointly operated and used laboratories ("Key-Labs"), including a recently established KeyLab 'Microplastics Analytics'. Young scientists in particular benefit from this diverse, technologically advanced infrastructure. In collaboration with the University of Bayreuth Graduate School, the CRC "Microplastics" has established the new interdisciplinary doctoral programme "Interdisciplinary Microplastic Sciences" to support PhD students, which includes numerous workshops and coaching sessions – for example, also on science communication.


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