NRW return award eSym EcoSystems Biology of a subsurface environment

The subsurface houses more than 100 million gigatons of carbon (mostly in form of carbonate) and represents the greatest resource of carbon on this planet. However, no climate change model considers this carbon reservoir, as it is believed not to be bioavailable. Our investigations of subsurface microbial communities, particularly those in high-CO2 and anaerobic environments, showed a high capacity for carbon fixation. In fact, this process sustains complex microbial communities, which span most of the known tree of life. In eSym, we are studying how carbon compounds in subsurface community are recycled between community members. We utilize state-of-the-art genome-resolved meta’omics methods by coupling genomes from metagenomes to isotopic lipid analyses and proteomics. Understanding carbon cycling in subsurface ecosystems will ultimately have profound implications on carbon climate change models.

Ongoing until 2022

Sloan Foundation Subaward Deep Life Deep Life - novel autotrophs in aquifers rich in carbon dioxide

Prokaryotes can transform carbon dioxide to organic matter using several different pathways, which is termed autotrophy. In this project we analyze untapped high carbon dioxide aquifers to identify previously unknown carbon dioxide fixers. Thereby, we employ genome-resolved metagenomics and couple it to lipidomics using bioinformatics and biostatistics.

Ongoing until Nov 2019 

DFG PR1603/2-1 NOVAC - Novel viruses of terrestrial subsurface archaea impacting global carbon cycling

The (deep) continental subsurface is home to a great abundance and diversity of archaea and bacteria, yet little is known about the viruses that infect these organisms. Of particular interest are dominant primary producers as they jump-start the food chain in these oligotrophic ecosystems and could in theory be an important target for viruses. In this proposal we hypothesize that Altiarchaeota, an uncultivated group of autotrophic subsurface archaea that occur in hot spots across the globe, are frequent targets of novel viruses that consequently impact carbon cycling. Using a combination of several state-of-the-art approaches including genome-resolved metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and genome-informed microscopy, this project will result in a comprehensive dataset of a uncultivated virus-host system in order to unravel the different infection stages of a virus in the actual ecosystem. The results of this proposal will shed new light on the diversity and function of deep subsurface viruses that infect autotropic archaea and thus alter carbon cycling in these environments.

Ongoing until 2022

ESA / DLR DISPERS - Dispersal of microorganisms and viruses to the Antarctic with implications for space exploration

In this ESA and DLR funded project, we intend to decipher the dispersal routes of microbes to the Antartic continent. We use genome-resolved metagenomics as well as cultivation experiments in collaboration with Andreas Möller's group at the DLR.

Ongoing until 2021

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Finished projects