The reconstruction of chlorophyll in the oceans demonstrates a fundamental role of microalgae in global biological activity.

Research

The reconstruction of chlorophyll in the oceans demonstrates a fundamental role of microalgae in...
Image: NASA

The Pohnert-group elucidates chemical defense- and communication strategies of microorganisms of the plankton and within the groundwater using the tools of modern bioorganic analytics, organic chemistry, and ecology. The central objective is to understand the nature and role of chemical signals that shape complex microbial communities.
A tool of fundamental importance developed in the lab is comparative (community) metabolomics that allows the identification of central signals of relevance in interaction situations. Isolation, spectroscopy, and organic synthesis of natural products are other important aspects of our work, but we believe that the full picture of the role of the compounds can only be obtained if transcriptomics, biochemistry, and ecology are brought in as well. The ultimate goal is the targeted manipulation of plankton, groundwater or biofilm communities in mesocosms and field experiments using elaborate chemical signatures. Our interdisciplinary work gives new insights into the chemically mediated species interactions but has also consequences for the understanding of global element cycles that are connected to microbial activity.

Microbial interactions in the plankton
Plankton is manipulated in mesocosms
groupouting
Biofilm interactions and diatom pheromones
The video shows how microscopic algae are attracted to a silicate source
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