Dr. Antonis Chatzinotas
Dr. Antonis Chatzinotas
Microbial Systems Ecology
Department of Environmental Microbiology
for Environmental Research - UFZ
04318 Leipzig, Germany
Phone: +49 341 235 1324
Fax: +49 341 235 2247
CV / Scientific Career
Diploma in Biology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
Research visit to the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
PhD, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETHZ), Switzerland
Post-Doc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland
Senior Research Scientist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Department for Environmental Microbiology
Group Leader Microbial Systems Ecology
My research has focused on understanding the diversity, functioning and ecosystem services of microbial communities in terrestrial (and some aquatic) ecosystems using a diverse set of molecular-biological tools. These research topics include amongst others aspects of ecological theories, the interactions between different microbial groups, and the interactions between microbes and plants. The aim of these studies is not only to increase our knowledge regarding the phylogenetic and functional diversity of microorganisms, but also to better understand the interaction of different trophic levels (bacteria, protists, phages, fungi and plants) as a response to anthropogenic activities or global change.
Moreover, I am very interested in using microbial model systems to address key principles in ecological theories. Since microorganisms are the key players in many ecosystems, it is absolutely necessary to bridge the gap between microbial ecology and general ecology and to identify novel theories in microbial ecology. Such model systems enable a high degree of replication and experimental control and are very helpful to test e.g. the relation between microbial diversity, trophic networks and the stability of ecosystem processes. We further want to apply ecological concepts to improve biotechnological applications using microbes.
Microbial diversity and functioning. We are studying how environmental parameters and human activities affect microbial communities, their functions and distribution in terrestrial systems. These impacts include e.g. pollution with (polycyclic) aromatic hydrocarbons or land use gradients. Analysis of microbial communities is mainly based on cultivation-independent approaches including high throughput sequencing, but requires in some cases also alternative cultivation approaches. A recent, new focus is the role of the flexible gene pool (e.g. plasmids) for the adaptation of bacteria to changing environmental condition (antibiotic resistance genes or genes involved in BTEX degradation).
Interactions between different trophic levels. Understanding the interactions within the same and between different trophic levels is required for a full comprehension of microbial responses to environmental changes. We are studying the diversity and distribution of bacterivorous protists as one of the main drivers of bacterial community structure and functions. Trophic interactions in polluted systems are addressed using stable isotope based approaches such as SIP. With respect to plant-microbe interactions, we are currently investigating the effect of rhizophere microbial interactions on plants using plant metabolite analysis (cooperation with Dr. Fester); moreover we have recently shown the influence of soil type and plant litter on specific functional groups in soil.
Another new international project focuses on the importance of three micropredator groups (i.e. bacterivorous protists, predatory bacteria and phage) for an efficient removal of bacterial pathogens. Terrestrial/plant phage ecology and (meta)genomics represents a new aspect in our research; first projects focus on specific phage-bacteria interactions in constructed wetlands, however, we will be substantially strengthening our research activities in this field
Ecological theories. We are using manipulative experiments to test the applicability of ecological concepts and theories derived from experiments with higher organisms. Such concepts include e.g. the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, the role of spatial heterogeneity for the establishment of microbial communities or the role of microbial interactions networks for the resilience to varying environmental regimes.
Bioreporter bacteria. We have optimized and applied arsenic biosensors for field tests. Besides the analysis of drinking water, we succeeded in developing a protocol for visualizing the distribution of arsenic in the rhizosphere. On-going work focuses on the development of a strip test.
Spatial distribution of eukaryotic microbes in agricultural soils across a land use gradient (Cooperation in the frame of the DFG-SPP 1374 with University Hohenheim)
Micropredators controlling bacterial pathogens
(Cooperation with Prof. Jurkevitch, Prof. Kushmaro and Prof. Abeed-Rabbo (DFG-Trilateral))
Impact of extreme weather events on microbial biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (Cooperation with University Bayreuth)
Role of eukaryotic microorganisms in the degradation of chitin and cellulose (Cooperation in the frame of the DFG-SPP 1315 with University Bayreuth)
Analysis of C-transfer in the rhizosphere with SIP (Cooperation in the frame of the DFG-SPP 1315 with Helmholtz Zentrum München)
Analysis of soil microbial communities using high throughput sequencing (Cooperation in the frame of the Long Term Static Fertilization Experiment at the UFZ (Dpt Soil Ecology, UFZ; Institute of Biology II, University Leipzig)
Biodiversity-function relationships studied with microbial model systems (Cooperation with different UFZ-Department (HGF-funded))
Transcriptome analysis of European lakes (Cooperation with University Duisburg-Essen)
Distribution of antibiotic resistances in the environment (Cooperation with TU Dresden)
Flowcytometric analysis (cytomics) of microbial interactions (Cooperation with Group Flowcytometry, UFZ)
Plant metabolite analysis of rhizosphere microbial interactions (Cooperation with Group Biotrophic Plant-Microbe Interactions, UFZ)
The role of phage-bacteria interactions and of the plasmid pool for bacterial ecosystem functions (Cooperation with different UFZ-Group (HGF-funded)