Thawing Permafrost Soil affecting the Kolyma river in Northeast Sibiria


We focus on the role of microbes that are driving the Earth's biogeochemical cycles. Here microbes are also involved in mediating mineral precipitation and dissolution, and sorbing organic matter. Our research encompasses biodiversity, microbial interactions, climate change mitigation, mining, and the deep biosphere.
Thawing Permafrost Soil affecting the Kolyma river in Northeast Sibiria
Image: Arne Körtzinger

Our Current Research Fields

Subsurface Microbiology Expand entry

Since 2013, we are studying groundwater microbiomes within activities of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) AquaDiva. Here we test the central hypothesis that surface and subsurface are coupled by fluid flow, so that surface changes will propagate into the subsurface bioreactor and change its functioning.

Targeted "Fishing" for Microbial interaction Partners Expand entry

Microorganisms are major drivers of the global biogeochemical cycles, but microbial activity itself is driven in turn by microbial interactions. Especially host-specific interactions are assumed to have strong influences on the balance of the entire microbiome. Such symbiotic or parasitic traits have suggested to be a key feature of the ultra-small (<0.2 µm) members of the newly described Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR) which lack essential biosynthetic functions and hence rely on a host-dependent lifestyle. 

Chemical Interaction of Fe-cycling Bacteria Expand entry

The biogeochemical cycle of iron is tightly coupled with the storage and cycling of organic carbon including electron shuttling, complexion and adsorption processes. Coexistence of microaerophilic Fe(II)-oxidizers and anaerobic Fe(III)-reducers in environments with fluctuating redox conditions is a prime example of mutualism, in which both partners benefit from the sustained Fe-pool. 

Lanthanide-driven C1 Metabolism Expand entry

Lanthanides, also known as rare earth elements, as new “life metals” have changed our understanding about methylotrophy and opened a door to a whole new area of microbial physiology. Although only studied in a few model organisms, lanthanide-dependent metabolism is an exploding field of research. We study the extracellular and intracellular accumulation of lanthanides in Beijerinckiaceae bacterium RH AL1, a newly i solated and recently characterized methylotroph.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Arctic Streams Expand entry

Arctic permafrost regions are thawing due to climate change leading to alterations in the carbon fluxes between the land, rivers and the atmosphere. Following a holistic approach, we analyze the synergy between the land and water gas fluxes and the microbial communities in Arctic streams associated to a floodplain influenced by permafrost thaw in Northeast Sibiria.

Tree Phyllosphere Microbiomes Expand entry

Phyllosphere and cortisphere microbial communities in tree canopies perform central biogeochemical functions and interact with the host plant species in multiple ways. Temporal and spatial heterogeneity of canopy microbial diversity is strongly influenced by phenology- driven changes of host plant properties but also by the structural heterogeneity of the tree canopy. We leverage the Leipzig canopy crane facility of iDiv to disentangle the controls on canopy microbial diversity and functioning by analysing the relationship between microbial communities and microhabitat structure and chemical properties, and potential pathways of microbial distribution and nutrient supply within the canopy.

Explore our Activities in the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1076 AquaDiva

Check out as well our Coordinated Research Programs down below