• Global Warming:

    the threat of a permafrost Carbon – climate feedback

  • We develop and improve

    stable isotopes techniques for ecological applications

  • Plants, fungi and bacteria interact

    at the root-soil interface

  • Probing the future:

    Climate Change experiments

  • Soil is fundamental to human life

  • Tropical rainforests

    hold the key to global net primary productivity

TER News

  • Congratulations - Msc Stefan Gorka


    Congratulations to Stefan Gorka, who successfully defended his Master thesis "Carbon and nitrogen exchange between plant roots, ectomycorrhizal fungi and soil bacteria in the mycorrhizosphere of Fagus sylvatica“ on Thursday 21 December 2017! Excellent, Stefan. ...

  • SEACUE: New FWF Project for Jörg Schnecker


    Jörg Schnecker has recently received funding for a new project called "SEACUE - Seasonal dynamics of soil microbial carbon sequestration" from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). 

    Congratulations Jörg! ...

  • SINA 2017


    SINA 15th Stable Isotope Network Austria Meeting - 24th-25th of Nov, 2017

    The 15th Stable Isotope Network Austria (SINA) Meeting is organized by the Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science and ...

  • New Paper in Ecology Letters: Optimal metabolic regulation along resource stoichiometry gradients


    Most heterotrophic organisms feed on substrates that are poor in nutrients compared to their
    demand, leading to elemental imbalances that may constrain their growth and function. Flexible
    carbon ...

Latest publications

Application of stable-isotope labelling techniques for the detection of active diazotrophs

nvestigating active participants in the fixation of dinitrogen gas is vital as N is often a limiting factor for primary production. Biological nitrogen fixation is performed by a diverse guild of bacteria and archaea (diazotrophs), which can be free-living or symbionts. Free-living diazotrophs are widely distributed in the environment, yet our knowledge about their identity and ecophysiology is still limited. A major challenge in investigating this guild is inferring activity from genetic data as this process is highly regulated. To address this challenge, we evaluated and improved several 15 N-based methods for detecting N2 fixation activity (with a focus on soil samples) and studying active diazotrophs. We compared the acetylene reduction assay and the 15 N2 tracer method and demonstrated that the latter is more sensitive in samples with low activity. Additionally, tracing 15 N into microbial RNA provides much higher sensitivity compared to bulk soil analysis. Active soil diazotrophs were identified with a 15 N-RNA-SIP approach optimized for environmental samples and benchmarked to 15 N-DNA-SIP. Lastly, we investigated the feasibility of using SIP-Raman microspectroscopy for detecting 15 N-labelled cells. Taken together, these tools allow identifying and investigating active free-living diazotrophs in a highly sensitive manner in diverse environments, from bulk to the single-cell level.

Angel R, Panhölzl C, Gabriel R, Herbold C, Wanek W, Richter A, Eichorst SA, Woebken D
2018 - Environ Microbiol, 20: 44-61

In situ observation of localized, sub-mm scale changes of phosphorus biogeochemistry in the rhizosphere

Aims We imaged the sub-mm distribution of labile P and pH in the rhizosphere of three plant species to localize zones and hot spots of P depletion and accumulation along individual root axes and to relate our findings to nutrient acquisition / root exudation strategies in P-limited conditions at different soil pH, and to mobilization pattern of other elements (Al, Fe, Ca, Mg, Mn) in the rhizosphere. Methods Sub-mm distributions of labile elemental patterns were sampled using diffusive gradients in thin films and analysed using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. pH images were taken using planar optodes. Results We found distinct patterns of highly localized labile P depletion and accumulation reflecting the complex interaction of plant P acquisition strategies with soil pH, fertilizer treatment, root age, and elements (Al, Fe, Ca) that are involved in P biogeochemistry in soil. We show that the plants respond to P deficiency either by acidification or alkalization, depending on initial bulk soil pH and other factors of P solubility. Conclusions P solubilization activities of roots are highly localized, typically around root apices, but may also extend towards the extension / root hair zone.

Kreuzeder A, Santner J, Scharsching V, Oburger E, Hoefer C, Hann S, Wenzel WW
2018 - Plant and soil, 1-17

Lecture series

Microbial function in relation to plant productivity and root exudation in contrasting tundra communities

Konstantin GAVAZOV
Climate Impacts Research Centre (CIRC), Umeå University, Abisko, Sweden
14:00 h
Seminar Room 'Konferenzraum Ökologie' UZA 1, Althanstr. 14, 1090 Wien

LC-MS Approaches in Metabolomics

Gunda Köllensperger, Prof.
University of Vienna, Department of Analytical Chemistry
11:15 h
Seminar Room Microbial Ecology, UZA 1, room no 2.309

Arbuscular mycorrhizas and organic nitrogen in soil – and the other microbes involved

Jan Jasna
Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
16:00 h
Friedrich-Becke Seminar Room, UZA 2 (Geozentrum), Althanstr. 14, 1090 Wien