The department investigates the impact of land use and the variety of plant species on:
- the amount, availability and complex formation of soil organic matter and of elements such as nitrogen and phosphorus,
- the activity of enzymes and microbial biomass in soils,
- the structural and functional diversity of soil bacteria and soil fungi.
Furthermore, the mechanisms of complex interactions between soil microorganisms and plants are studied, in particular in mycorrhizae, a symbiosis between microscopic fungi and roots.
In this context, chemical, microbiological and physiological analyses are used and increasingly combined with molecular biological methods. The analyses are performed on simple culture or incubation systems in microcosms, on potted plants, but also in the field in manipulative experiments or along regional and trans-regional transects.
Our research is carried out on own platforms or as part of national and international joint projects.
Close network with the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
The department was a founding member of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and is currently one of the four directors of iDiv (
Its 160 employees and approximately 120 external members are exploring the patterns of biological diversity, the processes and mechanisms promoting it, the importance of biodiversity for the functioning of ecosystems and its interactions with the society. The Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences (sDiv) and the graduate school (yDiv) are embedded in the active research environment of iDiv.