Dr. Thomas Banitz


Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Department of Ecological Modelling

Permoserstr. 15
04318 Leipzig

Tel.: +49 341 235-1708
Fax: +49 341 235-3500

Thomas Banitz


A major part of my research focuses on microbial ecosystems. I develop and apply theoretical and simulation models to investigate crucial mechanisms in such systems, microbial population and community dynamics, and ecosystem services provided. References to natural systems are derived from laboratory and field experiments in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Microbiology. Important study subjects are bacterial dispersal behaviour, spatiotemporal dynamics and interactions, effects of environmental heterogeneities, as well as resilience to stress.

An ecosystem service of particular interest is the bacterial degradation of soil pollutants. It has been shown that networks of soil fungi can facilitate both bacterial dispersal ('fungal highways') and pollutant transport ('fungal pipelines'). Therefore, the possibilities and preconditions for improving or sustaining biodegradation performance with fungal networks are explored.

Furthermore, I work on studies of disturbance ecology, coexistence mechanisms, biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships and species distributions. In these contexts, microbial ecosystems can often be used to investigate theoretical ecological concepts.

I am also interested in the methodology of developing and analysing models, combining them with data, and using them for understanding and predicting (microbial) ecosystem dynamics.

  • König, S., Worrich, A., Centler, F., Wick, L.Y., Miltner, A., Kästner, M., Thullner, M., Frank, K., Banitz, T., (2017):
    Modelling functional resilience of microbial ecosystems: Analysis of governing processes
    Environ. Modell. Softw. 89 , 31 - 39
    full text (url)
  • Banitz, T., Frank, K., Wick, L.Y., Harms, H., Johst, K., (2016):
    Spatial metrics as indicators of biodegradation benefits from bacterial dispersal networks
    Ecol. Indic. 60 , 54 - 63
    full text (url)
  • Otto, S., Banitz, T., Thullner, M., Harms, H., Wick, L.Y., (2016):
    Effects of facilitated bacterial dispersal on the degradation and emission of a desorbing contaminant
    Environ. Sci. Technol. 50 (12), 6320 - 6326
    full text (url)
  • Singer, A., Johst, K., Banitz, T., Fowler, M.S., Groeneveld, J., Gutiérrez, A.G., Hartig, F., Krug, R.M., Liess, M., Matlack, G., Meyer, K.M., Pe'er, G., Radchuk, V., Voinopol-Sassu, A.-J., Travis, J.M.J., (2016):
    Community dynamics under environmental change: How can next generation mechanistic models improve projections of species distributions?
    Ecol. Model. 326 , 63 - 74
    full text (url)
  • Worrich, A., König, S., Banitz, T., Centler, F., Frank, K., Thullner, M., Harms, H., Miltner, A., Wick, L.Y., Kaestner, M., (2016):
    Bacterial dispersal promotes biodegradation in heterogeneous systems exposed to osmotic stress
    Frontiers in Microbiology 7 , art. 1214
    full text (url)
  • Worrich, A., König, S., Miltner, A., Banitz, T., Centler, F., Frank, K., Thullner, M., Harms, H., Kästner, M., Wick, L.Y., (2016):
    Mycelium-like networks increase bacterial dispersal, growth, and biodegradation in a model ecosystem at various water potentials
    Appl. Environ. Microb. 82 (10), 2902 - 2908
    full text (url)
  • Banitz, T., Gras, A., Ginovart, M., (2015):
    Individual-based modeling of soil organic matter in NetLogo: Transparent, user-friendly, and open
    Environ. Modell. Softw. 71 , 39 - 45
    full text (url)
  • Fetzer, I., Johst, K., Schäwe, R., Banitz, T., Harms, H., Chatzinotas, A., (2015):
    The extent of functional redundancy changes as species’ roles shift in different environments
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112 (48), 14888 - 14893
    full text (url)
  • Banitz, T., Johst, K., Wick, L.Y., Schamfuß, S., Harms, H., Frank, K., (2014):
    Corrigendum: Highways versus pipelines: contributions of two fungal transport mechanisms to efficient bioremediation (vol 5, pg 211, 2013)
    Environ. Microbiol. Rep. 6 (4), 414 - 414
    full text (url)
  • Banitz, T., Johst, K., Wick, L.Y., Schamfuß, S., Harms, H., Frank, K., (2013):
    Highways versus pipelines: contributions of two fungal transport mechanisms to efficient bioremediation
    Environ. Microbiol. Rep. 5 (2), 211 - 218
    full text (url)
  • Kreft, J.-U., Plugge, C.M., Grimm, V., Prats, C., Leveau, J.H.J., Banitz, T., Baines, S., Clark, J., Ros, A., Klapper, I., Topping, C.J., Field, A.J., Schuler, A., Litchman, E., Hellweger, F.L., (2013):
    Mighty small: observing and modeling individual microbes becomes big science
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110 (45), 18027 - 18028
    full text (url)
  • Banitz, T., Johst, K., Wick, L.Y., Fetzer, I., Harms, H., Frank, K., (2012):
    The relevance of conditional dispersal for bacterial colony growth and biodegradation
    Microb. Ecol. 63 (2), 339 - 347
    full text (url)
  • Banitz, T., Fetzer, I., Johst, K., Wick, L.Y., Harms, H., Frank, K., (2011):
    Assessing biodegradation benefits from dispersal networks
    Ecol. Model. 222 (14), 2552 - 2560
    full text (url)
  • Banitz, T., Wick, L.Y., Fetzer, I., Frank, K., Harms, H., Johst, K., (2011):
    Dispersal networks for enhancing bacterial degradation in heterogeneous environments
    Environ. Pollut. 159 (10), 2781 - 2788
    full text (url)
  • Banitz, T., Huth, A., Grimm, V., Johst, K., (2008):
    Clumped versus scattered: how does the spatial correlation of disturbance events affect biodiversity?
    Theor. Ecol. 1 (4), 231 - 240
    full text (url)

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