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Molecular Biogeochemistry

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The research group explores key processes in the global biogeochemical cycles at the molecular level. Biomarkers and their isotopic content hold information on the regulation of the individual processes. The group is developing new tools and is applying existing techniques to investigate single key processes.

Interested in working with us?

We are always looking for interested students who want to pursue a Masters Thesis (preferably in combination with a project module) with us. More information about open positions:
Mikrobielle Aktivität entlang des Bodenprofils.


  • 03.19 - Simon attended the ASLO 2019 Aquatic Sciences Meeting held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He presented a talk titled "Chasing Surface Inputs of 14C-young Dissolved Organic Matter through a Karstic Aquifer System".
  • 02.19 - New Paper Alert - Simon paper about Riverine mixing at the molecular scale - An ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry study on dissolved organic matter and selected metals in the Amazon confluence zone (Manaus, Brazil) is online. Find the paper here
  • 12.18 - Natalie attended the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting held in Washington D.C. She presented a talk titled "Reconstructing Holocene Climatic and Environmental Changes in Central Asia From Lake Chatyr Kul (Tian Shan, Kyrgyzstan)".
  • 12.18 - Stefan Karlowsky successfully defended his thesis on "Mehanisms of Resistance and Resilience in the Plant-Soil System of Mountain Grassland Communities", Congratulations!
  • 09.18 - Gerd and Simon attended the 19th International Conference of the International Humic Substances Society (IHSS) in Varna, Bulgaria. Gerd presented on molecular and structural changes in dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the Critical Zone. Simon was awarded with a Travel Award by the IHSS for his work on identifying new markers for DOM transport in the Critical Zone.
  • 06.18 - Gerd, Yan, Simon and Carsten attended CRC AquaDiva On-Site Retreat 2018 held from 26th to 27th of June in Vitaleum, Hütten. Yan presented new findings and recent progress made on "Tracing Metabolic and Organic Signals Through the Earth’s Critical Zone" and the group's contribution in the joint project (CRC 1076 funded by DFG) as a whole. The discussions were followed by a field trip to the new AquaDiva site nearby.
  • 06.18 - Gerd & Carsten attended the ATTO workshop 2018? held at the MPI-BGC, Jena to contribute in the planning and co-ordination of future scientific work at the ATTO site.
  • 06.18 - For this years group activity we went Canoeing. And luckily no one got lost, no one drowned and no boat capsized. ;-)
  • 05.18 - PhD student Yang Xia from Laboratorie d'Ecology, Systématique et Évolution [ESE] Université Paris-Sud is visiting with us to analyse plant metabolite isotopes (sugar, organic acid and amino acid).
  • 04.18 - Gerd and Carsten attended the European Geoscience Union Assembly 2018 in Vienna, Austria and gave talks. -- Gerd's talk was on Resistance and recovery of rhizospheric carbon and nitrogen flow in fungi- and bacteria-dominated plant communities after drought -- Carsten spoke about Identification of ecosystem-specific markers in dissolved organic matter by Orbitrap tandem mass spectrometry (Pictures by @RouskLab via Twitter)
  • 04.18 - Sophie von Fromm - Master's student from TU Bergakademie Freiberg will be working with us to understand composition of various extractable C fractions of soil organic matter (SOM) and determine their ages with radiocarbon (14C) isotope analysis.
  • 12.17 - Conference Attendance - At the joint annual meeting of BES, GfÖ, NecoV and EEF in Ghent Markus presented his findings on how Dissolved Organic Matter mediates plant diversity effects on below-ground processes.
  • 12.17 - New Paper Alert - Karlowsky et al. paper about land use in mountain grasslands and drought responses associated with plant microbe interaction is online. This work resulted from a multi-institute collaboration under the umbrella of REGARDS project. Find the paper here


Latest Publications

1Anslan, S., Rad, M. A., Buckel, J., Galindo, P. E., Kai, J., Kang, W., Keys, L., Maurischat, P., Nieberding, F., Reinosch, E., Tang, H., Tran, T. V., Wang, Y., Schwalb, A. (2019). Reviews and syntheses: How do abiotic and biotic processes respond to climatic variations at the Nam Co catchment (Tibetan Plateau)? Biogeosciences Discussions. doi:10.5194/bg-2019-50.
2Fischer, C., Leimer, S., Roscher, C., Ravenek, J., de Kroon, H., Kreutziger, Y., Baade, J., Bessler, H., Eisenhauer, N., Weigelt, A., Mommer, L., Lange, M., Gleixner, G., Wilcke, W., Schroder, B., Hildebrandt, A. (2019). Plant species richness and functional groups have different effects on soil water content in a decade-long grassland experiment. Journal of Ecology, 107(1), 127-141. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.13046.
3Huang, J., Hammerbacher, A., Weinhold, A., Reichelt, M., Gleixner, G., Behrendt, T., van Dam, N. M., Sala, A., Gershenzon, J., Trumbore, S. E., Hartmann, H. (2019). Eyes on the future – evidence for trade-offs between growth, storage and defense in Norway spruce. New Phytologist, 222(1), 144-158. doi:10.1111/nph.15522.
4Leidinger, J., Seibold, S., Weisser, W. W., Lange, M., Schall, P., Tuerke, M., Gossner, M. M. (2019). Effects of forest management on herbivorous insects in temperate Europe. Forest Ecology and Management, 437, 232-245. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2019.01.013.
5Mellado-Vázquez, P. G., Lange, M., Gleixner, G. (2019). Soil microbial communities and their carbon assimilation are affected by soil properties and season but not by plants differing in their photosynthetic pathways (C3 vs. C4). Biogeochemistry, 142(2), 175-187. doi:10.1007/s10533-018-0528-9.
6Roscher, C., Karlowsky, S., Milcu, A., Gessler, A., Bachmann, D., Jesch, A., Lange, M., Mellado-Vázquez, P. G., Strecker, T., Landais, D., Ravel, O., Buchmann, N., Roy, J., Gleixner, G. (2019). Functional composition has stronger impact than species richness on carbon gain and allocation in experimental grasslands. PLoS One, 14(1): e0204715. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0204715.
7Schwab, V. F., Nowak, M., Elder, C. D., Trumbore, S. E., Xu, X., Gleixner, G., Lehmann, R., Pohnert, G., Muhr, J., Kuesel, K., Totsche, K. U. (2019). C-14-free carbon is a major contributor to cellular biomass in geochemically distinct groundwater of shallow sedimentary bedrock aquifers. Water Resources Research, 55(3), 2104-2121. doi:10.1029/2017WR022067.
8Schwab, V. F., Nowak, M., Trumbore, S. E., Xu, X., Gleixner, G., Muhr, J., Kuesel, K., Totsche, K. U. (2019). Isolation of individual saturated fatty acid methyl esters derived from groundwater phospholipids by preparative high-pressure liquid chromatography for compound-specific radiocarbon analyses. Water Resources Research, 55(3), 2521-2531. doi:10.1029/2018WR024076.
9Simon, C., Osterholz, H., Koschinsky, A., Dittmar, T. (2019). Riverine mixing at the molecular scale - An ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry study on dissolved organic matter and selected metals in the Amazon confluence zone (Manaus, Brazil). Organic Geochemistry, 129, 45-62. doi:10.1016/j.orggeochem.2019.01.013.
10van Maldegem, L., Sansjofre, P., Weijers, J. W. H., Wolkenstein, K., Strother, P. K., Wörmer, L., Hefter, J., Nettersheim, B. J., Hoshino, Y., Schouten, S., Damsté, J. S. S., Nath, N., Griesinger, Kuznetsov, N. B., Elie, M., Elvert, M., Tegelaar, E., Gleixner, G., Hallmann, C. ,(2019). Bisnorgammacerane traces predatory pressure and the persistent rise of algal ecosystems after Snowball Earth. Nature Communications, 10(1): 476. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-08306-x.
11Zhang, H.-Y., Hartmann, H., Gleixner, G., Thoma, M., Schwab, V. F. (2019). Carbon isotope fractionation including photosynthetic and post-photosynthetic processes in C3 plants: Low [CO2] matters. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 245, 1-15. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2018.09.035.
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