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Maria Westerholm

Maria Westerholm
Researcher in anaerobic microbiology and biogas processes at the Department of Molecular Sciences


My research focuses on microbes involved in anaerobic degradation and biogas production. I am particularly interested in discovering co-occouring network and syntrophic interactions, with the aim to find microbial solutions combined with technological innovations to increase and stabilize biogas production. My prospect is to deepen the knowledge and contribute to the development of anaerobic digestion processes that can be used to build biomass-based platforms for production of biofuels and bio-fertilizer. I've an expertise in strict anaerobic cultivation techniques, bioreactor operation and molecular analyses. As a member of the Anaerobic Microbial Biotechnology (AMB) at SLU, I perform research in close collaboration with biogas industry, research institutes and other Swedish and international research groups.

I started my doctoral studies in 2007 after finishing my MSc in Biotechnology at the Lund Univeristy. I recieved my PhD 2012 with the thesis “Biogas production through the syntrophic acetate-oxidising pathway – characterisation and detection of syntrophic acetate-oxidising bacteria”. I have since then worked as a researcher with a break in 2015 when I did a postdoc at the university KU Leuven in Belgium. 


Biogas production in a sustainable society, anaerobic microbiology, microbial energy metabolism



Novo Nordisk Foundation ascending investigator 2023 - Research within Industrial Biotechnology and Environmental Biotechnology. "Pinpoint syntrophic requirements to optimize biomethane production systems" Grant No 0081830. Principal Investigator.

Marie Curie MSCA Doctoral Network 2022. “Development of high-performance biogas systems for increased bioplastics degradation” Coordinator KU Leuven. Grant No 101120427. Co-applicant. 

European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant 2020. ”Deciphering the network of microbial, environmental and physical factors underlying aggregation and enhanced performance in syntrophic microorganism communities” Grant No 948138. Principal Investigator.

Kamprad Family Foundation 2020. "Unique reactor concept for enhanced biogas production from lignocellulosic material". Grant No 20200126. Main applicant

Swedish Research Council (VR) Starting Grant (NE) 2019. “Promote syntrophic flocculation for optimization of microbial processes” Grant No 2019-03846. Main applicant

Swedish Research Council (Formas) 2018. Research and development projects for future research leaders 2018. “Improved biogas production by promoting syntrophic propionate oxidation” Grant No 2018-00928. Main applicant.

Swedish Research Council (Formas) 2018. “Acetogenic platform for production of green bulk chemical”. Grant No 2018-01341. Co-applicant.

Award in the technical-economic class by the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden. “For outstanding research on syntrophic anaerobic microorganisms”


Main supervisor of PhD students
2024 – present  
Martine Ernestine Fischbach, Dep of Molecular Sciences, SLU, Sweden
2023 – present  
Malin Tiefensee, Dep of Molecular Sciences, SLU, Sweden
2021 – present  
Nils Weng, Dep of Molecular Sciences, SLU, Sweden
2021 – present  
Eduardo Pinela, Dep of Molecular Sciences, SLU, Sweden

Co-supervisor of PhD students
2024 – present  
Luca Bucci, Dept. Chemical Engineering - Process and Environmental Technology Lab, KU Leuven, Belgium
2022 – present  
Piera Wiesinger, Dep of Molecular Sciences, SLU, Sweden 
2019 – 2024  
Ebba Perman, Dep of Molecular Sciences, SLU, Sweden 
2019 – present
George Cheng, Dep of Molecular Sciences, SLU, Sweden 

Supervision of 9 MSc and BSc students

Selected publications

I have published 36 peer-reviewed articles and two reviews in peer reviewed scientific journals and two book chapters. The publications have received above 1806 citations in total (excluding self citations) yielding and H-index of 25.


By developing new microbial cultivation systems with technological innovations, we want to find methods for better microbial cooperation with the goal of improving and stabilizing biogas systems (funded by the ERC). Follow our work on:


Researcher at the Department of Molecular Sciences; Mikrobiell bioteknologi
Telephone: +46702035946
Postal address:
Institutionen för molekylära vetenskaper
Box 7015
750 07 Uppsala
Visiting address: Almas Allé 5, BioCentrum, Ultuna, Uppsala

Publications list: