Capacity of Ecosystems to Degrade Anthropogenic Chemicals

  • Lukas Y. WickEmail author
  • Antonis Chatzinotas


Pollution of ecosystems by a constantly increasing load of anthropogenic chemicals is a major driver of ecosystem service risk. This chapter summarizes relevant abiotic and biotic processes that determine the persistence, degradation, and ultimate destination of anthropogenic chemicals. It also summarizes research challenges for predicting the ability of an ecosystem to biodegrade an anthropogenic chemical by addressing the following questions: “What makes a chemical available for biodegradation?” and “What makes an ecosystem capable of biodegradation?”


Organic chemicals Biodegradation Bioavailability Microbial networks Biodiversity Sustainable chemistry 



This contribution was funded by and contributes to the research topic Chemicals in the Environment (CITE) within the Research Program Terrestrial Environment of the Helmholtz Association.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental MicrobiologyHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research–UFZLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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