Areas of competence

Photo: Manuel Gutjahr

Working group Systems microbiology

The working group Systems Microbiology deals with the assessment of microbial diversity (taxonomic, functional, ecological) in bio-economic production systems such as biogas plants, fermentation residues/farmyard manure, agricultural soils.

Microorganisms play an important role in all ecosystems as they contribute to the maintenance of these ecosystems through crucial material and energy conversion processes, regardless of whether one considers natural, agricultural or technical systems such as biogas plants. 

The development of new concepts for bio-economic production systems is currently a major challenge, as they include a wide range of tasks. These include the identification of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from both animal husbandry and crop production, the development of site-specific solutions for the use of residues from agriculture (especially animal husbandry), from landscape management and from the organic fractions of municipal, commercial and industrial waste. The aim is to ensure a flexible energy supply in line with demand and the optimisation of crop cultivation systems by using system-adapted (soil and crop-specific), high-quality fertilisers to improve soil, plant and food quality and health while reducing negative environmental impacts. 

Microorganisms are involved in all these processes. Understanding these processes, in particular how management measures affect microbial diversity (taxonomic, functional and ecological), is therefore a prerequisite for the knowledge-based design of bio-economic production systems.

We aim to develop concepts for a sustainable microbiome management in bioeconomic production systems in order to derive recommendations for existing and new agricultural systems. For a knowledge-based microbiome management, the microorganisms involved in the process must be identified and their metabolic potentials and functions as well as the regulating ecological mechanisms must be understood in order to develop new control and management strategies in the medium to long term, which consider the demands, potentials and especially the limits of microbial performance.

Our methodology ranges from the isolation, cultivation and characterization of aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms (archaea, bacteria, fungi), to the detection of complex and dynamic microbial communities by qPCR (quantitative PCR), TRFLP (terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism), DGGE (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis) and sequencing (Oxford Nanopore Technology) up to the application of multivariate statistics (PCoA, CCA, NMDS, TITAN) and network analyses with the aim of generating new knowledge on the capabilities, metabolic performance and ecosystem functions of individual microorganisms, groups of microorganisms or entire microbiomes.

Infrastructure

The equipment of the microbiological and molecular biological S1 and S2 - Labs

Contact

Dr. rer. nat. Theuerl, Susanne

Research Scientis, Head of the work group `System microbiology´


Department: Bioengineering

Email: stheuerl@spam.atb-potsdam.de

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