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Department of Biogeochemistry

Biogeochemie Abteilungsbild
LanceALot (© Max-Planck-Institu für Marine Mikrobiologie)

Research in the Department of Biogeochemistry led by Prof. Dr. Marcel Kuypers focuses on microbiological and geochemical processes that control bioactive element cycling in the marine environment. The researchers employ geochemical, microbiological, modeling, molecular and single-cell techniques to study the environmental regulation of these processes and their effects on the global biogeochemical cycles. They aim to gain fundamental insights into microbially mediated processes ultimately affecting ocean chemistry, biology and our climate and provide vital input for models predicting potential future changes resulting from human activities.

Research Groups: Biogeochemistry  Microbial Physiology

Department of Molecular Ecology

Molekulare Ökologie Bild
Alge (© Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie)

Research in the Department of Molecular Ecology led by Prof. Dr. Rudolf Amann covers various ecosystems, including benthic habitats - from coastal permeable sediments to deep sea hydrothermal vents and seeps – as well as pelagic environments - from the shelf to the open ocean. A special focus of this group lies on the North Sea and the Wadden Sea.

Research Groups : Molecular Ecology Group  Flow Cytometry Research Group  Microbial Genomics

Department of Symbiosis

Abteilung Symbiose
Muschelkiemen (© Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie)

The Department of Symbiosis headed by Prof. Dr. Nicole Dubilier studies the biology and ecology of tight associations between bacteria and eukaryotes. The main emphasis lies on marine invertebrates from chemosynthetic environments such as sulfide-rich coastal sediments, vents and seeps.


Research Group Metabolic Interactions

Microsensor Group

Bild Mikrosensoren
Mikrosensoren (© Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie)

High-resolution studies of chemical microenvironments and metabolic processes by microsensors
-Development of 1 and 2D microsensing systems (electrochemical and fiber-optical microsensors and planar optodes.
The microsensor group headed by Dr. Dirk de Beer develops microsensors and applies these tools to answer scientific questions. The sensors are used in various research themes: studies of O, S and C cycling in microbial mats; the relation between complexity and stability of microbial ecosystems (mats); anoxygenic photosynthesis in modelsystems; calcification and respiration in deep-sea sediments; the N-cycle in freshwater sediments; the N and S cycle in biofilms.

Max Planck Research Group Microbial Metabolism

Methanothermococcus-thermolithotrophicus (© T. Wagner)

The Mi­cro­bi­al Me­ta­bo­lism Group aims to un­der­stand, at the mole­cu­lar le­vel, how me­tha­no­gens are sur­vi­ving and gro­wing in ex­tre­me en­vi­ron­ments. How do they ge­ne­ra­te me­tha­ne from dif­fe­rent sour­ces of car­bon so ef­fi­ci­ent­ly? How do they con­vert mi­ne­rals into the ele­men­ta­ry bricks of life? And how do they pro­tect them­sel­ves against stres­ses from their na­tu­ral en­vi­ron­ment?

Max Planck Research Group Archaeal Virology

Electron microscopy image of a virus particle attached to a membrane vesicle. (Image: Susanne Erdmann)
Electron microscopy image of a virus particle attached to a membrane vesicle. (© Image: Susanne Erdmann)

The Archaeal Virology group headed by Susanne Erdmann investigates membrane vesicle formation in Archaea and the formation of plasmid vesicles and studies the interactions between membrane vesicles and viruses.

HGF-MPG Group for Deep Sea Ecology and Technology

Tiefseeökologie und -Technologie (© Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie)

The HGF MPG Joint Research Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology, headed by Prof. Dr. Antje Boe­t­ius, fo­cuses on the phys­ical, chem­ical, geo­lo­gical, hy­dro­lo­gical, and bio­lo­gical char­ac­ter­ist­ics of the di­verse mi­cro­bial hab­it­ats. The goal of our re­search on “mi­cro­bial hab­it­ats” is to un­der­stand niche form­a­tion, and to in­vest­ig­ate reg­u­lat­ory mech­an­isms for the oc­cur­rence and dis­tri­bu­tion of mi­cro­bial pop­u­la­tions. This re­quires the de­vel­op­ment of a vari­ety of in situ tech­niques, as well as ex­per­i­mental strategies to quantify the nature and vari­ab­il­ity of the hab­itat on dif­fer­ent tem­poral and spa­tial scales.

This Joint Re­search Group combines the expertise of the Al­fred-We­gener-In­sti­tute for Po­lar and Mar­ine Re­search (AWI) in Bremer­haven to con­duct re­search in po­lar en­vir­on­ments and to carry out long-term ob­ser­va­tions with MPIMM’s competence in the area of mar­ine mi­cro­bi­o­logy, the de­vel­op­ment of new mo­lecu­lar-bio­lo­gical meth­od­o­lo­gies, and in situ sensors

MARUM MPG Bridge Group Marine Glycobiology

Bild Abteilung Glykobiologie
Coscinodiscus (© Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie)

The MARUM MPG Bridge Group Marine Glycobiology, led by Dr. Jan-Hendrik Hehemann, focuses on certain algal sugars, so called polysaccharides. These polysaccharides are very important in the marine carbon cycle. The massively influence how much carbon is stored in the ocean. Despite their relevance the structures of algal polysaccharides and their recycling by marine microbes remain a mystery. To shed light on this black box of the marine carbon cycle Hehemann and his group study the functional evolution of the bacterial enzymatic machines and how they process algal polysaccharides in the ocean.

Marine Geochemistry Group

Bild Marine Geochemie

The ICBM-MPI Bridging Group headed by Prof. Dr. Thorsten Dittmar is a cooperation between MPIMM and the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM, University of Oldenburg). It aims at a better understanding of global element cycles using molecular tools. A special focus lies on dissolved organic matter (DOM). Structure-function-relationships for DOM and other organic matter pools are required to understand the earth’s past and future. Recent progress in analytical chemistry has allowed the characterisation of DOM at the molecular level in unprecedented detail, allowing for new insights into its source and history.

AG Marine Isotopengeochemie

Bild Marine Isotopengeochemie

The Max Planck Research Group for Marine Isotope Geochemistry headed by Dr. Katharina Pahnke-May is focused on the understanding of past and present processes and changes in the ocean and the climate system. Particular interest of this collaboration between MPIMM and the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM, University of Oldenburg) lies in trace elements and their isotopes in the ocean, as well as their role as tracers of present and past element input and fluxes, geochemical processes, internal cycling, and past ocean circulation changes. 

Department of Microbiology

Bild Mikrobio/MPIMM
Mikrobiologie (© Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie)

The Department of Microbiology headed by Prof. Dr. Friedrich Widdel investigates the physiology and diversity of aquatic bacteria from the cycles of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and iron. Investigations usually include the isolation of bacteria and their study under defined conditions in the laboratory. Characterisation of enrichment and pure cultures is often combined with the analysis of ribosomal nucleic acids, which is carried out in collaboration with the Department of Molecular Ecology. One major project is the study of the anaerobic degradation of long-lived natural products such as hydrocarbons, mostly by denitrifying and sulfate-reducing bacteria. Furthermore, the physiology of naturally abundant forms of sulfur-oxidizing and sulfate-reducing bacteria is of interest.

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