Marine Microbiology

The main focus of research in Marine Microbiology (MI) is on biodiversity studies of marine microorganisms from characteristic marine habitats, including deep-sea hot vent and cold-seep habitats, microorganisms associated with marine algae and various invertebrate species (in particular sponges) and coastal habitats as well.

Main Research Topics:

  • Microbial Diversity
  • Algae-Microbe Interactions
  • Marine Microbial Resources 
  • Marine Fungi

In order to unravel biodiversity as well as biological function, both culture-based studies and metagenomic analyses are combined. Investigations are aimed to determine influences of environmental factors on the community composition and changes alongside gradient systems as well as interactions within microbial communities. Most bacterial community analyses focus on either specific functional groups or specific ecosystem functions. In particular, autotrophic prokaryotes with specific participations in sulfur and nitrogen cycles were studied including nitrifying and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, chemotrophic as well as phototrophic representatives. Major emphasis is on the discovery of the unknown biodiversity and the adaptation to extreme conditions with particular consideration of deep-sea and hypersaline habitats as well as microbial associations with higher organisms. Metagenomic studies of bacterial biodiversity are complemented by functional molecular studies aiming to give a deeper understanding of biological roles of these microbes and the functioning of the communities.

Since marine microbes are considered as an emerging and important resource for bioactive compounds with tremendous possibilities e.g. for application for health and cosmetic care, the focus of MI has moved towards the biology and chemistry of marine microbial natural products within the past years. In the ecological context, bioactive compounds are considered to have functions in cellular communication, signalling and in the defence against predators and pathogens. Therefore, they may play a significant role in shaping interactions and forming the structure of marine communities. The genetic potential for natural product biosynthesis, the characterization of substances produced by marine microorganisms, their role in microbial interactions as well as applied aspects of natural products are within the focus of present and future research of MI.

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