Viggó Marteinsson

Research Group Leader


An expert group in microbiology studies and measures microorganisms in food, water, medicine and the environment. Microbial measurements aim to assess the diversity and distribution of microorganisms in order to promote the safety and wholesomeness of Icelandic products. Leading methods are used in microbial genetic analysis, as well as traditional and accredited measurement methods.

Projects in microbiological research are carried out in connection with both domestic and foreign parties and emphasis is placed on examining the diversity and role of microorganisms in different environments, assessing their usefulness and harmfulness to the environment and other organisms. The effects of micro-organisms on the shelf life of food are also assessed and population analyzes are carried out for pathogenic micro-organisms by sequencing their genome. In addition to the research, new measurement methods are being developed for harmful and pathogenic bacteria. 

Examples of environments where the diversity and role of microorganisms are being studied include food processing, fresh water, the intestinal flora of humans and animals, the sea areas around Iceland and peripheral environments such as hot springs and glacial lakes. Selected environmental samples and isolated microbial strains are stored in the ISCAR (Icelandic Strain Collection and Records) sample and stock collection. 

Examples of projects underway by a microbiology professional group:

  • Professional service measurements of microbial numbers in food, drinking water, medicines and the environment.
  • Research and mapping of the origin of unwanted bacteria (eg pathogenic and antibiotic-resistant bacteria) in the environment, food, food processing and in humans with their genome analysis to eradicate and understand the routes of transmission.
  • Studies on the genetics (metagenome) of microorganisms and their diversity using 16S rRNA gene analyzes in different environments such as the intestinal flora and the sea area around Iceland to study their role and function in changing environments and climates.
  • Research on the ecology of microorganisms from the peripheral environment, eg hot springs, glaciers and deep areas, as well as their utilization for biotechnological purposes.
  • Maintenance and expansion of the ISCAR sample and stock collection, which contains selected environmental samples and microorganisms of various origins. Register biological diversity for epidemiological research and utilization in biotechnology (iscar.matis.is).
  • Development of new methods for detecting and controlling the growth of pathogenic and harmful bacteria.
  • Utilization of micro-organisms for food production and processing of new biological substances and other products.