Ecosystems are composed of several trophic levels which interact with each other. In order to understand the link between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the context of global change we need to take into account these multiple trophic levels.
Our aim is to gain a better understanding of the ecology of multi-trophic microbial systems and the importance of microbial biodiversity and interactions for ecosystem functioning. We use theory, lab experiments and field surveys to study the major microbial players (bacteria, viruses (phage) and protists) and their interactions within and across trophic levels. The application of molecular biological and omics-tools allows us to analyse their dynamics in different habitats and across different temporal and spatial scales. In addition, we assemble laboratory microbial systems to understand the ecological and evolutionary consequences of microbial interactions under controlled experimental conditions. These lab systems range from miniaturized static systems to spatially structured setups (i.e. experimental metacommunities).
Current and future research topics of the group include amongst others:
- the biodiversity of bacteria, viruses (phages), predatory bacteria (BALOs) and protists in soils exposed to different land-use gradients and simulated future climatic scenarios (GCEF)
- the influence of global change (e.g. climate change, pollution, invasive fungal pathogens) on freshwater or amphibia-associated microbial and viral communities
- the relevance of microbial interactions, adaptation and co-evolution for the resilience and stability of microbial communities and functions under multiple stress conditions (e.g. pollution, temperature, antibiotics)
- the application of phage therapy to fight pathogenic bacteria and its consequences for host-associated microbiomes