Environmental Biotechnology is defined as the development, use and regulation of biological systems for remediation of contaminated environments (land, air, water) and for environment-friendly process, green manufacturing technologies and sustainable development.  It manipulates microbial organisms while exploiting their beneficial properties to serve the human community. This has paved the way for efficient environmental conservation strategies against global warming and climate change. Environmental biotechnology can be used to detect, prevent and remediate the emission of pollutants into the environment in a number of ways. Some of the emerging environmental biotechnology trends in the world include a broad range of applications such as bioremediation, prevention, detection and monitoring, genetic engineering for sustainable development and better quality of living.

Ethiopia as Vavilonian gene center of crop diversity is endowed with an enormous biodiversity that can serve as a platform to establish a successful bio-economy. Above all, Ethiopia has an extremely unique microbial diversity, many of them found in extreme habits, not found anywhere else in the world.  Recognizing the potential of biotechnology for the country’s sustainable development, the Ethiopian government has established Ethiopian biotechnology institute in 2016 to carry out sustained cutting-edge research. The institute has twined the usual way of doing research and brought a new paradigm focusing on problem solving applied research. Under this institute, Environmental biotechnology directorate is the one which is responsible for environmental biotechnology researches. Some of the thematic areas of environmental biotechnology are bio-remediation, bio-energy, waste water treatment and solid waste management. Although the institute is young to generate technology, a lot of problem-solving researches were conducted, technologies were developed and transferred to the end users. In its attempt realize resource recovery and zero waste industries, the directorate ሃስ developed various value-added products from sugar industries wastes. Briquette technologies, partial cement replacement using boiler ash technology are among the technologies developed and transferred under this directorate. 

On the other hand, environmental biotechnology directorate has been working on biocontrol and biofertilzer technologies to replace polluting chemicals with environmentally friendly technologies. Of these, biocontrol technologies made of Beauveria bassianaMetarhizium anisopliae and Bacillus thuringiensis to control tomato leaf miner and Tuta absoluta were tested under field conditions and resulted in promising outputs. The integrated application of microbial, botanical and chemical pesticides for the control of whiteflies on tomato for the production of healthy seedlings are the two technologies developed by Addis Ababa University with support of EBTI and tested in the field and transferred to the community under our directorate. In addition, rhizobia and endo mycorrhizal inoculant development are under way in collaboration with INTA of Argentina and ASTU.

Environmental biotechnology directorate has produced particle board from coffee parchment which is major sources of environmental concerns in coffee producing areas. The technology is ready for transfer in this fiscal year following feasibility study. Furthermore, hybrid board and food grade gelatin are produced from chrome shaving and skins thrown away as waste in the environment. Microencapsulated biocontrol agent for commercial use in Ethiopia is also under development. Generally, a lot of research outputs are in the pipeline and when completed, will be tested at pilot level, checked for feasibility and if fulfill the requirements for transfer, it will be transferred to the users. 

Research Gap

In Ethiopia most industries are releasing their wastes directly to the environment without any treatment. Almost all cities and towns of our country lack environmentally sound and modern waste management systems. As a result, environmental pollution has been among a major public health concern. These all require prompt technology-based solutions which are both environmentally and economically feasible.   Our low in put agriculture has been using some polluting chemicals excessively and hence water bodies found in their immediate environment are severely polluted. Therefore, the quest for better technologies to ensure sustainable environmental management is very high than ever in our country. Our directorate is working to bridge these gaps by conducting problem solving research and coordinating research activities of the sector at national level. 

  • Creating public awareness on safety of biotech products intended for public use.
  • Enhancing the technical capacity of Ethiopian researchers on safety and use of GMO products. 
  • Developing effective technologies for sustainable municipal waste management in Ethiopia. 
  • Rehabilitate polluted areas available in Ethiopia. 
  • To design smart waste management systems for various industries.
  • To replace polluting agrochemicals with environmentally friendly bio products. 
  • To foster reduction of greenhouse emission from fossil fuel combustion by exploiting biomass energy in various forms. 
  • To minimize plastic waste pollution by producing bio-degradable plastic and other biomaterials. 

Research Themes

1. Biosafety

  • Public and stakeholder awareness creation on safety of GMO products and their regulation 
  • Capacity building training on biosafety for experts working in various institutions 

2. Climate Change

  • Green technologies (low GHG emission, efficient natural resources utilization, devices for environmental change monitoring, bioreactor design & manufacturing)
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation (VAM mycorrhiza inoculant for national tree plantation, GHG emission reduction, carbon sequestration, indigenous knowledge and practices to adapt to CC) 

3. Bioenergy

  • Technologies for exploitation of biomass waste as a clean source of energy (coffee husk, sugar cane bagasse)
  • Biodiesel from selected plants and microalgae
  • Modern technologies for biogas production from wastes (industries, urban areas, agro-processing)
  • Biofuels from wastes

4. Bioremediation

  • Enzyme and microbes-based technologies for sustainable urban waste management (solid, wastewater)
  • Environmentally sound and economically feasible wastewater treatment systems for industries (Sugar factories, tanneries, coffee processing, textile, diary).
  • Plastic waste degrading microbes and their enzymes 
  • Rehabilitation of polluted areas in Ethiopia (ex. Lake Ziway)
  • Effectives technologies to control water hyacinths invasion in Ethiopian lakes  
  • Bio-fungicides and bio-fertilizers for sustainable and pollution free agriculture (chickpea and lentil wilt & root rot, floriculture wilt) 
  • Phytoremediation for sustainable environmental management 
  • Innovative technology development for pollution control
  • Antimicrobial resistance genes in waste streams: its health risk potential and mitigation strategies.

5. Biomaterials

  • Construction materials form industrial waste (coffee processing, sugar factories)
  • Pulp and paper from industrial wastes (coffee processing, sugar factories)
  • Adsorbent from industrial wastes (sugar factories, agro-processing industrial parks)
  • Biodegradable composite materials from industrial and urban solid wastes

Research Projects

  1. Preparation and Characterization of Crystalline Nano Cellulose (CNC) from different biomass sources for different applications (PI:Bethelhem Haile (MSc) Lemma Dadi (PhD))
  2. Biosynthesis and characterization of Carboxymethyl Cellulose (CMC) and Superabsorbent polymer (SAP) from Bamboo and Bagasse (PI:Bethelhem Haile (MSc) Lemma Dadi (PhD))
  3. Development of Hybrid Volcanic Pumice and Bio-Based Magnetic Nanoparticles filter for Drinking Water Purification. The aim of the project is to develop water purification technology to remove toxic heavy metals, coli, and fluoride from drinking water in rural areas using green synthesized magnetic nanocomposite.
  4. Optimization of nutritional and physical conditions for pilot-scale and large-scale production of selected mushroom species using agro-industrial by products to maximize food security and fight malnutrition in Ethiopia. The project intends to set optimum conditions for high yield and nutritional quality mushroom using sugar factories biomass waste.
  5. Biocontrol competence of Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae and Bacillus thuringiensis against tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta Meyrick 1917 under greenhouse and field conditions. The project is already completed and now being carried out to demonstrate the impact at various tomato producing sites.
  6. Biocontrol competence of Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae and Bacillus thuringiensis against tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta Meyrick 1917 under greenhouse and field conditions. The project is already completed and now being carried out to demonstrate the impact at various tomato producing sites.
  7. Anaerobic digestion of vinasse from alcohol factories for the production of biogas and biofertilizer. The project has aimed at evaluating biogas potential of the waste water and biofertilizer value of the subsequent bio-slurry.
  8. Preparation and characterization of crystalline nano cellulose and cellulose hydrogel from agro-industrial biomass for personal hygiene application.
  9. Reducing the level of fluoride for drinking water to the permissible limit on selected sites of Oromia region.
  10. Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens L.) as a technology for bioconversion of bio-waste into value-added products (poultry feed and nutrient-rich organic fertilizer). The project focuses on the treatment of biowaste by black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) is an emerging waste management technology. 
  11. This process converts waste into larval biomass, reduces waste dry mass and generates the raw materials for the production of soil conditioner and fertilizer
  12. Extraction and production of essential oil for industrial fragrance and flavor application from local bioresources. The general objective of this project is to extract essential oils and formulate fragrances and flavors from locally available raw materials.
  13. Cultivation of Azolla for alternative feed ingredient in chicken farming and biofertilizer formulation. The project is designed to collect and characterize azolla from aquatic ecosystem of Ethiopia and evaluation of their value as animal feed and biofertilizer additives.
  14. Electrogenic microbial biofilm fuel cell technology for bioelectric generation and industrial waste water treatment at lab-scale


Name of the ResearcherQualifcation/FieldArea of research interest or specializationEmail address
Mulissa JidaPhDApplied Microbiology, environmental biotechnology, wastewater treatment, biocontrol technology, biofertilizer, bioremediationmulissa2003[at]yahoo.com
Fekadu ShemekitePhDApplied Microbiology, environmental biotechnology, waste managementfshemekite[at]gmail.com
Beselam TadessePhDMicrobiology, WASHbeselamt[at]gmail.com
Lemma Dadi (PhD)PhDBiochemical Engineering, Biomaterials Synthesis, Circular Economylemmadadibekele[at]yahoo.com
Minyilal Sisay MihirMScApplied Microbiology, application of microbes for environmental protection (diseaseminyilals[at]gmail.com
Kominist AsmamawMScBiotechnologykomiasma[at]yahoo.com
Abayneh Goshu TarekegnMScEnvironmental Science, bioremediation, waste managementabayday2002[at]gmail.com
Bethelhem Haile TesemaMSc / Environmental ScienceSolid and liquid waste management and utilization, Biomaterial and Nanotechnologybethelhemh3[at]gmail.com
Teklu TsegaMScChemical Engineering, value added products, industrial productstekluhaile[at]gmail.com
Messay Emana GetuM.ScEnvironmental Science, bioenergy, Biosafety, waste water treatmentmessay1979[at]yahoo.com