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Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology Unit

High impact consultancy and research to protect the natural assets of the Northern Territory that underpin its economy

Located at Charles Darwin University Casuarina Campus, the Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology Unit (ECMU) specialises in microbiological, chemical and molecular analyses of aquatic and terrestrial environments, including analyses of sediment, water and biota. Our work supports shellfish food safety, safe drinking and recreational water and we use microbial signatures to monitor the footprint of pollution in the environment. We have been providing these specialist chemistry and microbiology services for over 25 years to government, councils, industry, individuals, researchers and students.

Our services include analysis of:

Water supplies – Potable town water, private water supplies, tank water, bottled water;

Surface waters – Recreational water, dams, rivers, creeks;

Waste / Effluent water – Primary, secondary, final sewage and industrial effluents;

Groundwater – Bore water; for stock, irrigation, potable;

Soils & Sediment - Terrestrial, aquatic;

Plants and biota

Woman in a white coat working at a machine in a laboratory
Elemental analysis of samples using a Mass Spectrometer (photo: ECMU)

Chemistry services

  • Routine environmental monitoring including sampling terrestrial and aquatic environments for elemental analysis,

  • Elemental analysis of water (marine, freshwater, drinking water), biota (oysters, fish) and sediment / soil samples; comparison to guidelines such as food standards,

  • Stable isotope analysis of water samples (precipitation / rainfall, surface and groundwater) to investigate water sources,

  • Atmospheric water vapour analysis - moisture source and precipitation histories,

  • Leaf transpiration analysis - plant physiology and vegetation water source studies,

  • Chlorophyll analysis of water and benthic sediments to monitor water body health in relation to algal blooms.

Person in white lab coat working in laboratory
Extracting DNA from water samples as part of microbial profiling analysis (photo: ECMU)

Microbiology services

Water, sediment and biota microbial quality including faecal indicators (human and animals), bacterial pathogens and algal toxins in marine, coastal and freshwater environments, including:

  • Microbial profiling of effluent and other wastewater – all bacteria, faecal indicators and pathogens,
  • Microbial profiling of marine, freshwater, recreational and drinking water,
  • Microbial source tracking in marine, freshwater, recreational and drinking water to measure microbial environmental footprint and sources of human or animal faecal indicators,
  • Opportunistic pathogen survival in surface and groundwater, biofilms and associations with iron bacteria to assist in developing management guidelines suitable for tropical Australia to improve drinking water quality and safety,
  • Aquatic food safety including shellfish – algal toxins, bacterial faecal indicators, toxigenic vibrio and other pathogenic bacteria.
Three people in white coats working at a bench in a laboratory
Sample processing (photo: ECMU)

Facilities and specialist expertise and tech

  • Two Mass Spectrometers for elemental and isotope analysis,
  • Portable Laser Spectrometers for C, O and H isotope analysis for real-time isotope surveys,
  • Analytical techniques for metal speciation,
  • Molecular laboratory including quantitative PCR equipment for targeted gene analysis and whole microbial community profiling,
  • Biostatistics and bioinformatics expertise and infrastructure,
  • Full range of field equipment for sampling and in-situ monitoring of pH, EC,
  • Temp, DO, Turbidity.

Contact us if you would like to discuss our services

Environmental Chemistry & Microbiology Unit (ECMU)
Charles Darwin University
Building Yellow 2 level 2 room 61
Ellengowan Drive
CASUARINA NT 0810

Dion Lambrinidis - 0410 998 080

ecmu@cdu.edu.au

+61 8 8946 7410