Research Group "Soil Microbiome"

Head: Dr. Stefanie Schulz

Soil microbial communities are the key factor for the retention of soil quality and ecosystem services like clean water, energy, agricultural production or recultivation. Bacteria, fungi and Archaea act as drivers for all major nutrient cycles and control therefore plant development and soil quality. In most cases the activity of microbes cannot be related to one particular strain or ecotype as interacting communities are the drivers for selected functions. Moreover many processes are closely interlinked and one turnover process directly influences other metabolic pathways. However ecosystem development and the influence of global change scenarios (e.g. intensive agriculture; production of renewable resources or climate change) on microbial community function is by far not understood. Therefore it is our aim 

(i) to bridge the gap between agricultural practice and molecular ecology to improve our understanding about sustainable management,

(ii) to understand the influence of global change on microbial networks and the resilience of soil functions,

(iii) to investigate the role of microbes in ecosystem development with a special emphasize on nutrient transformation and soil formation.

To tackle the different research topics high end molecular techniques like next generation sequencing will be combined with stable isotope probing and basic characterization methods like quantitative PCR approaches, potential activity measurements and quantification of nutrient pools.