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Prof. Dr Gabriele Berg strengthens microbiome research at the ATB

Portrait Prof. Dr. Gabriele Berg (Copyright: Lunghammer/TU Graz)

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Berg (Copyright: Lunghammer - TU Graz)

On 1 July 2021, Prof. Dr Gabriele Berg will take over in a joint appointment as head of the Department of Bioengineering at the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB) and the Chair of Plant Microbiome Management at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biology of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Potsdam. Prof. Berg will strengthen and further expand the ATB's research in the field of microbiome research.

Microorganisms and their metabolism play an important role in all ecosystems, whether in natural, agricultural or technical systems such as biogas plants or biorefineries. A deeper understanding of the microbiome, i.e. the entire community of microorganisms in an ecosystem, is essential for a biobased circular economy that uses healthy soils, plants and animals for the production of healthy food, efficiently recycles residues and increases energy and climate efficiency as well as economic viability inline with the One Health concept. 

ATB has therefore been researching microorganisms in their many functions for a long time, be it as high performers in the soil, in conversion processes such as in biogas plants or as decay agents, e.g. on fruit and vegetables. The investigations focus on individual species up to complex microbial communities and their respective interactions. In this context, ATB research aims at a fundamental understanding of microbial diversity within metabolic networks as a prerequisite for the targeted control of microbiomes for the production, use and recycling of biomass.

"In the future, we will focus even more on the smallest and most important actors in the bioeconomy", says Prof. Dr Barbara Sturm, ATB's Scientific Director. "We are very pleased that Prof. Berg will strengthen our team with her profound expertise in the field of microbiome research. With her, ATB has won an outstanding scientist with the highest international reputation, a visionary who is on fire for her topic of microbiome research."

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. habil. Gabriele Berg has been Professor of Environmental Biotechnology at Graz University of Technology since 2005. She is among the top 1% of the most cited scientists in her discipline.

Born in Potsdam, she studied biology at the universities of Rostock and Greifswald and received her doctorate in microbiology in 1995. In 2001, she received the Venia Legendi for microbiology with her habilitation thesis on "Antagonistic microorganisms". In 2003 she was awarded a Heisenberg fellowship by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and finally in 2005 she became the first professor to be appointed to a natural science chair at Graz University of Technology. On 1 July, she will take over as head of the "Bioengineering Department" at the ATB. Her appointment as professor for "Plant Microbiome Management" at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biology at the University of Potsdam has already taken place on 1 May 2021. During a transitional period, Prof. Berg will continue to take on tasks at TU Graz and at her new position.

"The joint appointment will give new impetus to the cooperation between the two institutions and open up new possibilities for the research and use of plant microbial communities," both Prof. Dr Elke Dittmann, Managing Director of the Institute of Biochemistry and Biology at the University of Potsdam, and ATB Director Prof. Dr Barbara Sturm agree.

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Berg is looking forward to the new challenges and she adds: "I also look forward to returning to the city of my birth. This is where my interest in the natural sciences was awakened, on the one hand in my parents' home and on the other hand at the Hermann-von-Helmholtz Gymnasium as part of my scientific-practical work at the University of Potsdam. With my research, I would like to contribute to solving current global health issues. There are ideal prerequisites and cooperations for this at the ATB and at the University of Potsdam."

Helene Foltan  –  Public Relations
Tel.: +49 (0)331 5699-820, email:
Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik und Bioökonomie (ATB)
Max-Eyth-Allee 100, 14469 Potsdam, Germany

The Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy is a pioneer and a driver of bioeconomy research. We create the scientific foundation to transform agricultural, food, industrial and energy systems into a comprehensive bio-based circular economy. We develop and integrate techniques, processes and management strategies, effectively converging technologies to intelligently crosslink highly diverse bioeconomic production systems and to control them in a knowledge-based, adaptive and largely automated manner. We conduct research in dialogue with society - knowledge-motivated and application-inspired.