Traditionally, ammonia oxidizers are thought to only make their living from converting ammonia to nitrite. However, there is evidence that some ammonia oxidizers can also use simple forms of organic nitrogen such as urea and cyanate.
To understand the environmental importance of simple organic nitrogen compounds for ammonia oxidizers, I am combining biogeochemical rate measurements with molecular and single cell analyses.
Additionally, I study the use of organic nitrogen compounds by nitrifier enrichment cultures and I am developing new incubation techniques to reduce cross-feeding in stable isotope incubations.
My PhD is a joint project between the MPI for Marine Microbiology and the Division of Microbial Ecology, University of Vienna (Prof. Michael Wagner).