Microbial Interaction Ecology


Research Interests

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


Dr. René Kallies: Virus diversity, viromics

Dr. Anke Kuppardt-Kirmse (Wackwitz): Protist diversity, predator-prey interactions

Dr. Canan Karakoç: Experimental ecology and evolution

PhD Students

Peter Hofmann: Variability of phytoplankton traits along environmental gradients, microcosm experiments

Judit Laufer: Microbial communities and their interactions across trophic levels in mountain lakes (P3-project)

Adriana Paula Bernardo Cravo: Microbial communities of amphibian skin microbiomes, spread of pathogenic chytrid fungus (P3-project)

Krupa Parmar: Impact of viruses on subsurface microbial communities (CRC AquaDiva)


Anett Heidtmann

Nicole Steinbach

Josephine Arnold (apprentice)

Bachelor and Master students

Alla Kavtea (Leipzig University)

Guest Scientists


Please visit the webpages of the group leader Antonis Chatzinotas or the group members for information on research projects and cooperations.


To see our publications, please visit our personal web pages.

Open PhD, Master-/Bachelorpositions and Internships of our group you can find at
Jobs and Education