Max Häggblom


Environmental and applied microbiology, biodegradation and bioremediation

Research in our laboratory focuses on the biodegradation of environmental pollutants, especially halogenated aromatic compounds. Our specific interests are in understanding (a) how microbes degrade toxic chemicals, such as halogenated aromatic compounds, and (b) how microbial communities can be stimulated to degrade soil, groundwater and sediment contaminants. Our laboratory is examining the diversity of aerobic and anaerobic processes in the degradation and transformation of environmental pollutants, including chlorinated and brominated aromatic compounds, chlorinated pesticides, PCBs and PAHs. Our research is seeking novel bioremediation strategies for degradation of these compounds in soils and sediments. Our long term research objectives involve examining the diverse catabolic activities of microbes and how biotransformation and biodegradation affect the fate of anthropogenic contaminants.

A central objective in these studies is the physiological characterization of the microorganisms involved in contaminant degradation and transformation and the identification of degradation mechanisms and pathways. The work in our laboratory is currently focusing on identification of degradation mechanisms of halogenated aromatic compounds under different redox conditions, including a biochemical and molecular characterization of the degradation pathways. In addition, we are also examining the population structure and dynamics of anaerobic dehalogenating communities. Another area of interest is the characterization of rhizospheric bacteria involved in biodegradation of organic contaminants and developing their use in bioremediation. We are also exploring aspects of microbe-oligochaete interactions in biodegradation of organic contaminants. The aims of these research projects are to provide a basic understanding of the environmental fate of anthropogenic pollutants as well as to serve as a base for developing novel bioremediation or biocatalytic processes.


ORCID Profile


Liu J, Lopez N, Ahn Y, Goldberg T, Bromberg Y, Kerkhof LJ, Häggblom MM. (2017) Novel reductive dehalogenases from the marine sponge associated bacterium Desulfoluna spongiiphila. Environmental Microbiology Reports. DOI:10.1111/1758-2229.12556
Read the Article

Liu T, Ahn H, Sun W, McGuinness LR, Kerkhof LJ, Häggblom MM. (2016) Identification of a Ruminococcaceae species as the methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) degrading bacterium in a methanogenic consortium. Environ. Sci. Technol. 50:1455-1464. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04731
Read the Article

Nikrad MP, Kerkhof LJ, Häggblom MM. (2016) The subzero microbiome: Microbial activity in frozen and thawing soils. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 92:fiw081. DOI: 10.1093/femsec/fiw081
Read the Article

Liu H, Park J-W, Häggblom MM. (2014) Enriching for microbial reductive dechlorination of chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans. Environ. Pollution 184:222-230. DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2013.08.019
Read the Article

Tuorto SJ, Darias P, McGuinness LR, Panikov N, Zhang T, Häggblom MM, Kerkhof LJ. (2014) Bacterial genome replication at subzero temperatures in permafrost. ISME Journal 8:139-149. DOI:10.1038/ismej.2013.140
Read the Article

Rauschenbach I, Posternak V, Cantarella P, McConnell J, Starovoytov V, Häggblom MM. (2013) Seleniivibrio woodruffii gen. nov., sp. nov., a selenate and arsenate respiring bacterium in the Deferribacteraceae. Int. J. System. Evol. Microbiol. 63:3659-3665. DOI:10.1099/ijs.0.043547-0
Read the Article

Rawat S, Männistö, MK, Bromberg Y, Häggblom MM. (2012) Comparative genomic and physiological analysis provides insights into the role of Acidobacteria in organic carbon utilization in Arctic tundra soils. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 82:341-355. DOI:10.1111/j.1574-6941.2012.01381.x6
Read the Article


Max Häggblom CV 2017 (PDF)



11:680:410 | Microbiology and Culture of Cheese and Wine (Study Abroad - France) (PDF)
11:680:486 | Analytical Methods in Microbiology (PDF)
11:680:494 | Applied Microbiology (PDF)


16:375:529 | Biodegradation and Bioremediation
16:682:501 | Microbial Life (PDF)
16:682:523 | Seminar in Microbiology
16:682:524 | Applied and Industrial Microbiology (PDF)