Dr Isabel Douterelo Soler
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Lecturer in Water & Applied Microbiology
+44 114 222 5720
Full contact details
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Sir Frederick Mappin Building (Broad Lane Building)
My research aims to understand microbial risks in urban water systems to protect public health.
Dr Isabel Douterelo-Soler
Isabel has a BSc in Environmental Sciences from the Autonomous University of Madrid, a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of A Coruña, and a PhD in Physical Geography from the University of Hull.
Her interest in applied microbiology started at the University Autonomous of Madrid, where her research focused on assessing and monitoring river pollution, particularly the suitability of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) to monitor nutrient pollution in running waters.
Isabel moved to the UK for her doctoral studies in the Department of Geography at the University of Hull.
Funded by English Heritage, she studied how microorganisms can contribute to the deterioration of archaeological remains, helping to advise on how best to store our valuable historical artefacts.
After her PhD, Isabel worked as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Warwick, to better understand the ecology of microorganisms and their role in the global ecosystem.
With this aim, she studied the metabolic flexibility of Paracoccus denitrificans to understand why at a genetic level this model microorganism is so successful in adapting to changing environmental conditions.
Isabel joined the Pennine Water Group in 2011 as a Research Associate in Microbiology working in the area of drinking water engineering, and after a brief period as a Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University (2015-2016), she re-joined us, as an EPSRC-Living with Environmental Change Research Fellow to investigate the impact of climate change on drinking water systems and its consequences on water quality and public health.
- Research interests
Isabel’s research investigates the impact of environmental change on drinking water distribution systems with the aim of generating new knowledge and tools that will improve the way drinking water is supplied in our cities, in a sustainable and economically viable way.
As a consequence of climate change water sources used for water supply will be more contaminated and limited, the temperature of the water will increase and long-term changes in water demand will affect drinking water quality and safety.
All these changes will significantly affect biological and physico-chemical processes taking place in drinking water systems and will force water utilities to modify the way they deliver water.
Isabel’s work is interdisciplinary by nature, and consequently she doesn’t just concentrate on water supply systems.
The scope of Isabel’s work covers drinking water supply, sewage systems, and groundwater, and how these three interact. For example, drinking water supply pipes and sewage infrastructure are often located near each other underground.
Extreme weather events such as flooding combined with damaged buried infrastructure can cause cross-contamination from one system to the other and compromise public health.
The ultimate goal of Isabel’s research is to develop new management, monitoring and risk mitigation technologies to protect public health and enhance climate change adaptation of urban water systems.
Microbial-related processes that can compromise water safety and quality in urban water systems include pathogen occurrence, corrosion, antimicrobial resistance, resistance to disinfection, and toxins production.
By understanding why these microorganisms are present and what kind of environment they flourish in, Isabel can work towards strategies to prevent the harm they cause.
The impact of these microbial risks is significant in the UK, but is a growing problem in developing countries where poor infrastructure, frequent extreme weather events and population growth make these issues a critical concern for public health.
To tackle these challenges Isabel is collaborating with water utility companies and scientists in other countries including Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.
- Intermittent water supply impacts on distribution system biofilms and water quality. Water Research, 201.
- Impact of phosphate dosing on the microbial ecology of drinking water distribution systems: fieldwork studies in chlorinated networks. Water Research, 187.
- Influence of phosphate dosing on biofilms development on lead in chlorinated drinking water bioreactors. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, 6(1). View this article in WRRO
- The microbial ecology of a Mediterranean chlorinated drinking water distribution systems in the city of Valencia (Spain). Science of The Total Environment, 754. View this article in WRRO
- Influence of phosphate dosing on biofilm development on Drinking Water Distribution Systems infrastructure surfaces. Access Microbiology, 2(7A).
- Decision-making tools to manage the microbiology of drinking water distribution systems. Water, 12(5). View this article in WRRO
- Drinking water temperature around the globe : understanding, policies, challenges and opportunities. Water, 12(4). View this article in WRRO
- Microbial diversity, ecological networks and functional traits associated to materials used in drinking water distribution systems. Water Research. View this article in WRRO
- Phosphate Dosing in Drinking Water Distribution Systems Promotes Changes in Biofilm Structure and Functional Genetic Diversity. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, 599091.
- Effects of phosphate and hydrogen peroxide on the performance of a biological activated carbon filter for enhanced biofiltration. Journal of Hazardous Materials. View this article in WRRO
- Effect of temperature increase in bacterial and fungal communities of chlorinated drinking water distribution systems. Access Microbiology, 1(1A). View this article in WRRO
- Understanding microbial ecology to improve management of drinking water distribution systems. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, 6(1). View this article in WRRO
- Whole metagenome sequencing of chlorinated drinking water distribution systems. Environmental Science Water Research & Technology, 4(12), 2080-2091. View this article in WRRO
- Succession of bacterial and fungal communities within biofilms of a chlorinated drinking water distribution system. Water Research, 141, 74-85. View this article in WRRO
- Bacterial growth through microfiltration membranes and NOM characteristics in an MF-RO integrated membrane system: Lab-scale and full-scale studies. Water Research, 144, 36-45.
- Field assessment of bacterial communities and total trihalomethanes: Implications for drinking water networks. Science of The Total Environment, 616-617, 345-354. View this article in WRRO
- Spatial and temporal analogies in microbial communities in natural drinking water biofilms. Science of the Total Environment, 581-582, 277-288. View this article in WRRO
- Linking discolouration modelling and biofilm behaviour within drinking water distribution systems. Water Science and Technology: Water Supply, 16(4), 942-950. View this article in WRRO
- Dynamics of Biofilm Regrowth in Drinking Water Distribution Systems. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82(14), 4155-4168. View this article in WRRO
- Microbial analysis of in situ biofilm formation in drinking water distribution systems: implications for monitoring and control of drinking water quality. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 100(7), 3301-3311. View this article in WRRO
- Characterisation of the Physical Composition and Microbial Community Structure of Biofilms within a Model Full-Scale Drinking Water Distribution System. PLOS ONE, 10(2), e0115824-e0115824. View this article in WRRO
- Methodological approaches for studying the microbial ecology of drinking water distribution systems. Water Research, 65, 134-156. View this article in WRRO
- Bacterial community dynamics during the early stages of biofilm formation in a chlorinated experimental drinking water distribution system: implications for drinking water discolouration.. J Appl Microbiol, 117(1), 286-301. View this article in WRRO
- The bacteriological composition of biomass recovered by flushing an operational drinking water distribution system.. Water Res, 54, 100-114. View this article in WRRO
- Influence of hydraulic regimes on bacterial community structure and composition in an experimental drinking water distribution system. Water Research, 47(2), 503-516. View this article in WRRO
- Dormancy cycling in Arabidopsis seeds is controlled by seasonally distinct hormone-signaling pathways. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(50), 20236-20241.
- Enzyme activities and compositional shifts in the community structure of bacterial groups in English wetland soils associated with preservation of organic remains in archaeological sites. International Biodeterioration Biodegradation.
- Enzyme activities and compositional shifts in the community structure of bacterial groups in English wetland soils associated with preservation of organic remains in archaeological sites. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation, 65(3), 435-443.
- Soil microbial community response to land-management and depth, related to the degradation of organic matter in English wetlands: Implications for the in situ preservation of archaeological remains. APPL SOIL ECOL, 44(3), 219-227.
- Response of the microbial community to water table variation and nutrient addition and its implications for in situ preservation of organic archaeological remains in wetland soils. INT BIODETER BIODEGR, 63(6), 795-805.
- Molecular studies on the Niphargus kochianus group (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Niphargidae) in Great Britain and Ireland.. Cave and Karst Science, 35(1), 35-40.
- Molecular studies on the Niphargus kochianus group (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Niphargidae) in Great Britain and Ireland. Cave and Karst Science, 35(1-2), 35-40.
- Physiological differences between two species of cyanobacteria in relation to phosphorus limitation. J PHYCOL, 42(1), 61-66.
- Use of cyanobacteria to assess water quality in running waters. ENVIRON POLLUT, 127(3), 377-384.
- Climate change and management of biofilms within drinking water distribution systems. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10.
- Biofilm and Related Amoebas in an UK Chlorinated Drinking Water System. Water, 13(21), 3069-3069.
- Implications of Climate Change: How Does Increased Water Temperature Influence Biofilm and Water Quality of Chlorinated Drinking Water Distribution Systems?. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12.
Conference proceedings papers
- Investigating the microbiological risks associated with urban flooding in the UK. Access Microbiology, Vol. 4(5). virtual, 26 April 2021 - 30 April 2021.
- Amoeba & biofilms in UK chlorinated drinking water distributions systems: impact on water safety. Access Microbiology, Vol. 4(5). virtual, 26 April 2021 - 30 April 2021.
- Monitoring biofilm communities in operational drinking water distribution systems and the impact on water quality. 1st International WDSA / CCWI 2018 Joint Conference
- Controlled, Realistic-scale, Experimental Study of How the Quantity and Erodibility of Discolouration Material Varies with Shear Strength. Procedia Engineering, Vol. 89 (pp 135-142)
- Lowland Floodplain Responses to Extreme Flood Events: Long-Term Studies and Short-Term Microbial Community Response to Water Environment Impacts. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, Vol. 14(1-4) (pp 126-149)
- Impact of hydraulic events on organic and inorganic material in distribution systems. AWWA Water Quality Technology Conference. Long Beach, California, USA, 4 November 2013 - 7 November 2013.
- Biofilms and Discolouration Material Accumulation Processes in Drinking Water Distribution Systems and Modelling the Hydraulic. IWA Specialist Conference Biofilms in Drinking Water systems from treatment to tap. Arosa, Switzerland, 23 August 2015 - 26 August 2015.
- The impact of hydraulic conditions upon drinking water distribution system biofilms. biofilms’ IWA Specialist Conference Biofilms in Drinking Water systems from treatment to tap. Arosa, Switzerland, 23 August 2015 - 26 August 2015.
NBIC proposal with Welsh Water
The aim of this project is to facilitate novel research investigating the impact of phosphate dosing and lead leaching on drinking water quality and safety. Phosphate is added to control plumbosolvency and corrosion in metallic pipes hence it is used to protect consumer’s health and water quality.
The Addition of Phosphate Dosing to Dwr Cymru Welsh Water zone B10
This provides an opportunity to investigate how the addition of phosphate can impact the microbial community and subsequent water quality interactions. The project will also benefit with support from the PODDS project that will investigate the impact of phosphate dosing on discolouration risk. This project therefore offers multiple mutual benefits to both parties investigating the poorly understood impact of phosphate dosing.
This research is developing a fundamental understanding of the microbial ecology of intermittently operated water distribution systems to inform operational or construction risk reduction strategies. Funded by US NSF and EPSRC, this project is a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Sheffield.
- Potential PhD offerings
Unfortunately I am not seeking any PhD Students at this time, however please contact me if you are interested in doing a project in my research area.