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Marine Geochemistry Group

Group leader

Marine Geochemistry Group

Prof. Dr. Thorsten Dittmar

MPI for Marine Microbiology
Celsiusstr. 1
D-28359 Bremen


+49 441 798-3602


+49 441 798-3358

An agreement of cooperation was signed in 2013 between the Max Planck Society (represented by president Dr. Gruss) and the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg (represented by president Dr. Simon) to intensify the scientific cooperation between the University and the MPI Bremen. To fill the agreement with life, the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM, University of Oldenburg) established a new Research Group for Marine Geochemistry as a bridge between the ICBM and the MPI.

The research group studies dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the ocean. The ocean is one of the largest carbon reservoirs on Earth. Dissolved organic matter alone contains a similar amount of carbon as all living biomass in the ocean and on land combined. Even though marine dissolved organic matter is mainly of microbial origin, its turnover in the ocean is remarkably slow. Dissolved organic matter has accumulated in the ocean over thousands of years, and the controlling mechanisms behind its turnover and cycling are largely unknown. Advanced molecular techniques, in particular ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry, are used in the research group to obtain answers to the fundamental questions regarding the cycling of organic matter in the oceans.

Why do we need ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry for your research?

It is the most powerful technique to molecularly characterize complex organic mixtures, such as DOM, whose composition is still largely unknown. We can determine the mass of an individual molecule with a precision of one ten-thousandth of a Dalton, which is less than the mass of an electron. This level of precision is required to identify individual molecules in seawater. We are the only institution in the marine sciences worldwide that hosts such unique mass spectrometer.

The research group is located in Oldenburg. How is the cooperation with the ICBM?

This location is ideal for us, mainly because of the geochemical expertise at the ICBM. We have established excellent cooperation with the geochemistry and microbiology groups of the ICBM and MPI. Several students of the MPI perform their research projects in our group which it is just one hour driving distance away.


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