Microorganisms are tiny and their ranges of active dispersal in soil are very limited. But they are everywhere and very numerous. Especially in terrestrial environments they provide crucial functions in maintaining ecosystem stability. For example the turnover of nutrients in soil is greatly attributed to the activity of billions of cells consisting of many different species co-existing in this heterogeneous environment. However, direct observation of their life is scarce and remains in the shadows of opaque soil components. How the physical soil structure together with nutrient and hydration conditions affects microbial life is among my main research interests because understanding this microenvironment provides insights in the conditions enabling the early onset of terrestrial life and can teach us how to sustain life on this planet.
Since microorganisms are not isolated in space, they interact and change their environment. Similar to ourselves they are able to build structures (consisting of extracellular polymeric substances instead of concrete) and hereby modify their environment. I am further interested in the spatial and temporal persistency of aforementioned structures and the factors shaping such microbial "settelments".
I. f. Biogeochemie/Schadstoffdyn.
CHN E 37.2
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