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Department of Molecular Ecology


The Department of Molecular Ecology headed by Rudolf Amann analyzes the diversity, composition, and function of marine microbial communities. We are fascinated by the microbial catalysis of major biogeochemical element cycles which we are studying from coastal sand flats to the open ocean, and from photic surface waters all the way down to hot vents and cold seeps at the sea floor.

Molecular Ecology Group

Long before plants and animals had evolved, single celled microorganisms have shaped Earth and ever since they remained essential for the habitability of our blue planet. Nucleic acid-based technologies opened a window to discover the full diversity of marine microorganisms. Whereas only thousands of species of Bacteria and Archaea have been described by cultivation-based methods, we are identifying millions by molecular fingerprinting. Today high throughput sequencing is providing ample data on species richness and evenness, yet quantification of the individual species remains difficult. Here we apply fluorescence in situ hybridization for the microscopic identification of single microbial cells and their localization in the environment. Comparative genome analysis and assays tracing the uptake of substrates by single cells allow us to deduce the physiological role and biochemical potential of not yet cultivated Bacteria and Archaea. Our ultimate goal is to proceed beyond quantitative descriptions of microbial communities. We predict the niche and recurrence of marine microbes, and test these hypotheses in the environment by assigning functions to taxonomic clades. 

Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics Group

The Mi­cro­bial Ge­n­om­ics and Bioin­form­at­ics Re­search Group de­velopes en­abling tech­no­lo­gies to in­vest­ig­ate the ge­netic po­ten­tial of mar­ine bac­teria and their mech­an­isms coded in the gen­ome to ad­apt to chan­ging en­vir­on­mental con­di­tions.


Group retreat!

We had three very inspiring, motivating, sunny days at the Müritz with many fruitful discussions, ambitious future plans and lots of fun in and on the water. Thanks to all, who were with us! [10.08.17]

ready to set sail
© N. Heinzmann

"Congratulations to 
Meg­han Chafee on the suc­cess­ful de­fen­se of her doc­to­ral dis­ser­ta­ti­on"

PhD defense
© T. Wilkop / MPI-MM



Meier, D.V., et al., (2017). Ni­che par­ti­tio­n­ing of di­ver­se sul­fur-oxi­di­zing bac­te­ria at hydro­ther­mal vents. ISME J. ac­cep­te...

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Reintjes, G., et al., (2017). An al­ter­na­ti­ve po­ly­sac­cha­ri­de uptake me­cha­nism in ma­ri­ne bac­te­ria. ISME J. ac­cep­ted.

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Avci, B., et al., (2017). Ge­n­omic and physiolo­gical ana­lyses of ‘Reinekea forsetii’ re­veal a ver­sat­ile op­por­tun­istic life­style dur­ing s...

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Last updated June 13th, 2017

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