Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH UFZ– (UFZ)
The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ conducts integrated environmental research to support a sustainable use of natural resources to benefit both mankind and the environment. Research at the UFZ is organized into six strategic research units, to which a total of 37 departments are assigned. At the Department of Environmental Microbiology we investigate complex microbial communities and their importance for the reliability of microbial (ecosystem) services, in terrestrial, aquatic and engineered environments. This knowledge finds its application in the development of ecologically inspired methods of soil and water treatment, the design of tailored bioreactors for the biochemical and bio-electrochemical synthesis of energy carriers and chemicals from renewable resources, as well as in the development of methods for the monitoring and process control of microbial communities. In the Microbial Interaction Ecology group (head Prof. Antonis Chatzinotas) we aim to gain a better understanding of the ecology of multi-trophic microbial systems and the importance of microbial biodiversity and interactions for ecosystem functioning. We use theory, lab experiments and field surveys to study the major microbial players (bacteria, viruses, protists and bacterial predators) and their interactions within and across trophic levels. The application of molecular biological and omics-tools allows us to analyze their dynamics in different habitats and across different temporal and spatial scales. With assembled microbial model systems, which enable a high degree of replication and experimental control, we try to address key ecological principles in the context of climate change or co-evolutionary dynamics.