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HGF MPG Joint Research Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology


Since 1.12.2008, the MPI Microbial Habitat group and the AWI Deep-Sea Research group form the Helmholtz - Max Planck Joint Research Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology. Additional information on the work of the group situated at the AWI can be found here.

The microbial habitat describes the physical location and type of environment in which a population of microorganisms live. Hence, this research group studies the physical, chemical, geological hydrological, and biological characteristics of distinct microbial habitats. The goal of our research is to understand structure and change of microbial ecosystems, the formation of niches for microbial populations, and to investigate environmental dynamics and their consequences on the occurrence, biodiversity, and distribution of microbial populations.

The uniting topics to all researchers in the group is to obtain 1) “true” quantitative insight to ecosystem structure, dynamics, and biogeochemical fluxes, based on in situ measurements, and 2) insight into the related variations in microbial biodiversity on relevant spatial and temporal scales. The development of novel instrumentation for in situ studies of submarine ecosystems, ranging from coastal sands, reefs, continental margins, and polar waters to hydrothermal vents, enables us in collaboration with the Microsensor group to improve the quantification of transport and reaction, which are dominant factors structuring microbial habitats.

Furthermore, we link our in situ biogeochemistry and biodiversity studies closely to the investigation of microbial function in the respective habitats, in collaboration with the department of Microbiology and Molecular Ecology.


Latest Publications

Bienhold C, Schourup-Kristensen V, Krumpen T, Nöthig E-M, Wenzhöfer F, Korhonen M, Vredenborg M, Hehemann L, Boetius A (2022) Effects of sea ice retreat and ocean warming on the Laptev Sea continental slope ecosystem (1993 vs 2012). Frontiers in Marine Science 9:1004959. [Link]

Benito Merino D, Zehnle H, Teske A, Wegener G (2022) Deep-branching ANME-1c archaea grow at the upper temperature limit of anaerobic oxidation of methane. Frontiers in Microbiology 13:988871 [Link]

von Jackowski A, Becker K, Zäncker B, Wietz M, Bienhold C, Nöthig E-M, Engel A (2022) Variations of microbial communities and substrate regimes in the eastern Fram Strait between summer and fall. Environmental Microbiology [Link]

Wietz M, Metfies K, Bienhold C, Wolf C, Janssen F, Salter I, Boetius A (2022) Impact of preservation method and storage period on ribosomal metabarcoding of marine microbes: Implications for remote automated samplings. Frontiers in Microbiology 13 [Link]

Gollner S, Haeckel M, Janssen F, Lefaible N, Molari M, Papadopoulou S, Reichart G, Alexandre JT , Vink A, Vanreusel A (2021) Restoration experiments in polymetallic nodule areas. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management [Link

Hahn CJ, Lemaire ON, Kahnt J, Engilberge S, Wegener G, Wagner T (2021) Crystal structure of a key enzyme for anaerobic ethane activation. Science 373(6550) [Link]

Wegener G, Gropp J, Taubner H, Halevy I, Elvert M (2021) Sulfate-dependent reversibility of intracellular reactions explains the opposing isotope effects in the anaerobic oxidation of methane. Science Advances 7(19) [Link]




Otto Hahn Medal for Ra­fael Laso Pérez # Rafael Laso Pérez (left) and Gunter Wegener (right) study the metabolism of archaea from deep-sea sediments in the field as well as in the lab. (© Tom Pingel)

For his outstanding scientific work on the role of archaea in the degradation of non-methane hydrocarbons, MPI researcher Dr. Rafael Laso Pérez is awarded the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society.

Group leader

HGF MPG Joint Research Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology

Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius

MPI for Marine Microbiology
Celsiusstr. 1
D-28359 Bremen




+49 421 2028-8600

Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius
HGF MPG Research Group
The HGF MPG Joint Research Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology.
Visit us here:
Deep Sea Ecology and Technology Group (Habitat) @Habitat_MPI


Ice Cores
Scientists taking ice cores during a research expedition in the Arctic. Every year, members of our group are going on research expeditions and sampling campaigns around the globe. The destinations range from sandy coastal regions, over warm and cold water corals, to the deep-sea floor at several thousand meters water depth.
Image by Josephine Rapp
Our in situ technology operated aboard research vessels includes landers (image), multi-corers, sediment traps, plankton nets, and ROVs. Other in situ equipment is permanently situated at sea, usually attached to moorings reaching down the entire water column, and includes diverse sensors to monitor physical and chemical parameters of the ocean, as well as sediment traps catching and preserving sinking biotic and abiotic particles.
Image by Josephine Rapp
AOM consortium
Parts of our research focus on thermophilic consortia consist of anaerobic methane-oxidizing Archaea (ANME-1; red) and bacterial partner (HotSeep-1; green). These consortia were sampled and enriched from the Guaymas Basin, Gulf of California. The cells were visualized by CARD-FISH, a standard technique in molecular ecology to identify specific groups of organisms. The micrograph was obtained with a confocal fluorescence laser scanning microscope.
Image by Viola Krukenberg
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