Environmental Microbiology, Recycling Municipal and Agricultural Waste, Degradation of lignocellulose.
The aim of the research is to optimize the composting process of several agricultural wastes as well as municipal solid waste to prepare container media for greenhouse agriculture from the compost. In addition, the suppressiveness of the composts to various soil-borne pathogens is elaborated. Conclusions from this research are that cattle manure, grape marc, green waste and bio-solids which are an ecological burden in many countries, can serve after adequate treatments as peat substitute for various horticultural crops. Currently we are studying the composting of municipal biosolids and agricultural wastes . In these studies we are also investigating the effect of compost on the ecology of the microbial population developed in the rhizosphere and on geminating seeds using state of the art molecular tools.
White rot fungi such as Pleurotus ostreatus are able to degrade lignin in a selective mode. The aim of our study is to increase the value of agricultural waste for agricultural application. The mechanism of lignin degradation by P. ostreatus is also investigated, with emphasis on expression of Laccase and Manganese peroxidase. Molecular tools for genetic manipulations are developed.
The ability of Pleurotus to oxidize lignin is also studied in the context for bioremediation in the study of aromatic pharmaceuticals metabolism, decolorization of dyes and degradation of humic substances. We use Pleurotus for utilization of agricultural by products, currently focusing on olive mill solid waste.