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Scientific Award of the Vienna Environmental Protection Department to René Mayer

Our employee René Mayer has been awarded the Scientific Advancement Prize 2017 of the Vienna Environmental Protection Department.


Clean water is one of the most important prerequisites for our health. To ensure that our high water quality is maintained, it is necessary to use meaningful standardised test methods. Biological contaminants – such as bacteria that have entered the water through faeces – can now be detected with DNA tests. René Mayer from the Institute of Institute of Chemical, Environmental & Biological Engineering analysed the significance of such tests in his dissertation. The Viennese Environmental Protection Department has now awarded him a prize for his achievements. The excellent dissertation was funded by the FWF (Project No.: P22309).


Man or animal?

Fecal contamination in the water can originate from both humans and animals - in any case they contain a large number of pathogens and are therefore considered dangerous contamination of water resources. Knowing the exact origin of the contamination plays an important role in such cases" explains René Mayer. "On the one hand, in order to be able to assess the hygienic risk and, on the other hand, to be able to take suitable protective measures in the respective water catchment area."

Therefore, methods have been developed in recent years at the TU Vienna to identify specific microorganisms by means of special DNA sections. This also enables us to clarify quickly and reliably whether these are microorganisms that have been introduced into the water by grazing animals or whether they are bacteria of human origin.


Scientific Award

On 6 November 2017, the Vienna Environmental Protection Department (MA22) awarded René Mayer the Scientific Award 2017. This prize is awarded annually for a scientific work in the field of environmental protection, the prize-winning work is selected by a jury of experts.


The award-winning publications

Mayer R, Bofill-Mas S, Egle L, Reischer G, Schade M, Fernandez-Cassi X, Fuchs W, Mach R, Lindner G, Kirschner A, Gaisbauer M, Piringer H, Blaschke AP, Girones R, Zessner M, Sommer R, Farnleitner A (2016): Occurrence of human-associated Bacteroidetes genetic source tracking markers in raw and treated wastewater of municipal and domestic origin and comparison to standard and alternative indicators of faecal pollution. Water Research 90: 265–276

Mayer RE, Vierheilig J, Egle L, Reischer GH, Saracevic E, Mach RL, Kirschner AKT, Zessner M, Sommer R, Farnleitner AH (2015): Automated Sampling Procedures Supported by High Persistence of Bacterial Fecal Indicators and Bacteroidetes Genetic Microbial Source Tracking Markers in Municipal Wastewater during Short-Term Storage at 5°C. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81(15): 5134-5143