Aquatic microbes are essential players in freshwater ecosystems, catalyzing key processes of all major elemental cycles. My research group, Microbial Ecology contributes the microbial perspective to the department of Surface Waters’ aim of achieving an in-depth understanding of the physical and biogeochemical processes in freshwater systems, e.g. lakes and reservoirs. Our research is thus primarily driven by questions about the impact of environmental and ecological factors on aquatic microbial communities and their functions and vice-versa. For this purpose, we focus on functional groups of microbes that drive key processes in freshwater environments.
Not all microbes are harmless, however: a second focus of our research is the role of aquatic environments and the urban water cycle for the dissemination of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Our goals are:
- to identify, characterize and quantify key players in important microbial processes in freshwater systems, e.g. methane oxidation, degradation of organic matter, or in the nitrogen cycle.
- to understand the importance of diversity and microbial community structure for the resilience of microbial populations and their biochemical functions.
- to understand the mechanisms that shape the microbial response to a dynamic environment, such as functional regulation, changing community structure, and evolutionary processes.
- to link data on microbial populations and activities to chemical, physical, and other biological data in interdisciplinary efforts to obtain a better understanding, and better models, of freshwater ecosystems.
- to conduct and support applied research on antibiotic resistance in freshwater systems and the microbiology of wastewater treatment systems.
Improving our basic knowledge about aquatic microbial ecology provides a foundation for sustainable management of one of our most important natural resources: Water.