Prof. dr. ir. Jo De Vrieze

Telephone number: 
+32 9/264 59 76
Faculty staff


  • Ph.D. in Applied Biological Sciences, Ghent University, 2010-2014;
  • Master in Bioscience Engineering, Environmental Technology, Ghent University, 2008-2010;
  • Bachelor in Bioscience Engineering, Environmental Technology, Ghent University, 2005-2008.

Professional activities

  • Associate professor (BOF-ZAP) in Architecture of Microbial Ecology and Engineering, Department of Biotechnology, Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) (Ghent University), 2021– present;
  • Assistant professor in Microbial Ecology for the Bio-based Circular Economy, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences & Department of Chemical Engineering (KU Leuven), 2020 – 2021;
  • Postdoctoral research fellow (FWO), awarded at the Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) (Ghent University), 2015-2020;
  • Doctor-assistant position, Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET) (Ghent University), 2014-2015;
  • Assistant position, Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (Ghent University), 2010-2014.


Since 2010, my research has been focused on anaerobic microbial processes. During my PhD, I studied renewable energy recovery through anaerobic digestion, with a focus on the methanogenic community. Both operational management strategies, e.g., feeding pattern variation and inoculum selection, and technological strategies, i.e., the application of a cell potential via carbon felt electrodes and active biomass retention by means of an anaerobic membrane unit, were evaluated to determine their potential to enhance biogas production in anaerobic digestion.

During my postdoctoral fellowship for which I obtained a personal FWO grant, my research focus was extended to alternative anaerobic microbial processes for renewable energy recovery (e.g., biogas upgrading), carboxylate production (e.g., fermentation) and nutrient/resource recovery, within the concept of the methane cycle. A diverse matrix of both direct (such as membrane and carrier-based systems) and indirect (such as the development of alternative process indicators and the redesign of process flows) technological applications was investigated to increase the overall efficiency and sustainability of these anaerobic microbial processes, central to my research.

The final aim of my past (assistant professor at KU Leuven, 2020-2021) and current research (since September 2021) as associate professor in Architecture of Microbial Ecology and Engineering (at Ghent University) is to achieve organic and inorganic waste valorisation through the development of novel tools and methods based on microbial principles and technologies, and bring selected strategies from lab-scale fundamental “proofs of principle” to reliable full-scale technological applications. Central to my research are microbial 3D entities in which I (1) focus on better understanding of their microbial and physicochemical structure, and (2) aim towards direct engineering for specific products and services.

For a complete Academic Bibliography, see


I have been involved in several courses at the Bachelor and Master level at Ghent University and KU Leuven. I am currently lecturer of the course Microbial Processes for the Bio-based Circular Economy (KU Leuven). I have been lecturer of the course Microbial Ecological Processes (Ghent University), and I also acted as guest lecturer for several other courses. I am currently supervising several PhD students. I have acted as promotor or tutor of multiple ongoing/finished MSc students, several of which obtained an award.

International research stays and workshops

During my PhD research, I engaged an international research stay of three months at the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Santiago de Compostela (March – May 2014). In the second year of my postdoctoral research, I spent three months at the School of Engineering, University of Glasgow (March – May 2016). I also participated in several international specialist courses, and I also followed several additional courses.

Selected key publications: 
Acosta, N., Duh Kang, I., Rabaey, K., De Vrieze, J. 2021. Cow manure stabilizes anaerobic digestion of cocoa waste. Waste Management, 126, 508-516
De Vrieze, J. 2020. The next frontier of the anaerobic digestion microbiome: from ecology to process control. Environmental Science and Ecotechnology, 3, 100032
Torun, F., Hostins, B., Teske, J., De Schryver, P., Boon, N., De Vrieze, J. Nitrate amendment to control sulphide accumulation in shrimp ponds. 2020. Aquaculture, 521, 735010
Law, C., De Henau, R., De Vrieze, J. 2020. Feedstock thermal pretreatment selectively steers process stability during the anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge. 2020. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 104, 3675-3686
Lippens, C., De Vrieze, J. 2019. Exploiting the unwanted: Sulphate reduction enables phosphate recovery from energy-rich sludge during anaerobic digestion. Water Research, 163, 114859
De Vrieze, J., Arends, J.B.A., Verbeeck, K., Gildemyn, S., Rabaey, K. 2018. Interfacing anaerobic digestion with (bio)electrochemical systems: potentials and challenges. Water Research, 146, 244-255
De Vrieze, J., De Waele, M., Boeckx, P., Boon, N. 2018. Isotope fractionation in biogas allows direct microbial community stability monitoring in anaerobic digestion. Environmental Science & Technology, 52, 6704-6713
De Vrieze, J., Pinto, A.J., Sloan, W.T., Ijaz, U.Z. 2018. The active microbial community more accurately reflects the anaerobic digestion process: 16S rRNA (gene) sequencing as a predictive tool. Microbiome, 6:63
De Vrieze, J., Saunders, A.M., He, Y., Nielsen, P.H., Verstraete, W., Boon, N. 2015. Ammonia and temperature determine potential clustering in the anaerobic digestion microbiome. Water Research, 75, 312-323
De Vrieze, J., Hennebel, T., Boon, N., Verstraete, W. 2012. Methanosarcina: The rediscovered methanogen for heavy duty biomethanation. Bioresource Technology, 112, 1-9