(Dept. 3) Plankton and Microbial Ecology

Research in the Department of Plankton and Microbial Ecology on the shores of Lake Stechlin centres on impacts of global environmental change on inland waters. Consequences on the biodiversity and functioning of plankton communities in lakes receive particular attention. This includes investigations into the dynamics, activities and interactions of bacteria, phytoplankton, zooplankton and fungi. Field experiments, especially in a large outdoor facility dubbed the LakeLab in Lake Stechlin, are a hallmark of research in the department. Other essential elements are the analysis of long-term data, laboratory experiments and the development of ecological models and new methods to analyse plankton communities. We use the knowledge gained in theses studies to devise concepts and methods that foster the protection and sustainable management of inland waters in the face of ongoing environmental change.

Contact persons

Mark Gessner

Head of Department
Research group
Ecosystem Processes

Research groups

Stella A. Berger
Mark Gessner
Hans-Peter Grossart
Jens Christian Nejstgaard
Sabine Wollrab

Department members

Selected publications

March 2023
Limnology and Oceanography Letters. - XX(2023)XX, XX

Blooms also like it cold

Kaitlin L. Reinl; Ted D. Harris; Rebecca L. North; Pablo Almela; Stella A. Berger; Mina Bizic; Sarah H. Burnet; Hans-Peter Grossart; Bastiaan W Ibelings; Ellinor Jakobsson; Lesley B. Knoll; Brenda M. Lafrancois; Yvonne McElarney; Ana M. Morales-Williams; Ulrike Obertegger; Igor Ogashawara; Ma Cristina Paule-Mercado; Benjamin L. Peierls; James A. Rusak; Siddhartha Sarkar; Sapna Sharma; Jessica V. Trout-Haney; Pablo Urrutia-Cordero; Jason J. Venkiteswaran; Danielle J. Wain; Katelynn Warner; Gesa A. Weyhenmeyer; Kiyoko Yokota

Cyanobacteria are considered to be heat-loving, and massive algal blooms are reported mainly in summer, when monitoring is particularly close. Now, the authors show that cyanobacterial blooms can also occur at colder temperatures - even under ice. If the algal blooms go unnoticed, there are risks to drinking water production.

November 2022
Global Biogeochemical Cycles. - 36(2022)3

Global patterns and controls of nutrient immobilization on decomposing cellulose in riverine ecosystems

David M. Costello ; Scott D. Tiegs ; Luz Boyero ; Cristina Canhoto ; Krista A. Capps ; Michael Danger ; Paul C. Frost ; Mark O. Gessner ; Natalie A. Griffiths ; Halvor M. Halvorson ; Kevin A. Kuehn ; Amy M. Marcarelli ; Todd V. Royer ; Devan M. Mathie ; Ricardo J. Albariño ; Clay P. Arango ; Jukka Aroviita ; Colden V. Baxter ; Brent J. Bellinger ; Andreas Bruder ; Francis J. Burdon ; Marcos Callisto ; Antonio Camacho ; Fanny Colas ; Julien Cornut ; Verónica Crespo-Pérez ; Wyatt F. Cross ; Alison M. Derry ; Michael M. Douglas ; Arturo Elosegi ; Elvira de Eyto ; Verónica Ferreira ; Carmen Ferriol ; Tadeusz Fleituch ; Jennifer J. Follstad Shah ; André Frainer ; Erica A. Garcia ; Liliana García ; Pavel E. García ; Darren P. Giling ; R. Karina Gonzales-Pomar ; Manuel A.S. Graça ; Hans-Peter Grossart ; François Guérold ; Luiz U. Hepp ; Scott N. Higgins ; Takuo Hishi ; Carlos Iñiguez-Armijos ; Tomoya Iwata ; Andrea E. Kirkwood ; Aaron A. Koning ; Sarian Kosten ; Hjalmar Laudon ; Peter R. Leavitt ; Aurea L. Lemes da Silva ; Shawn J. Leroux ; Carri J. LeRoy ; Peter J. Lisi ; Frank O. Masese ; Peter B. McIntyre ; Brendan G. McKie ; Adriana O. Medeiros ; Marko Miliša ; Yo Miyake ; Robert J. Mooney ; Timo Muotka ; Jorge Nimptsch ; Riku Paavola ; Isabel Pardo ; Ivan Y. Parnikoza ; Christopher J. Patrick ; Edwin T.H.M. Peeters ; Jesus Pozo ; Brian Reid ; John S. Richardson ; José Rincón ; Geta Risnoveanu ; Christopher T. Robinson ; Anna C. Santamans ; Gelas M. Simiyu ; Agnija Skuja ; Jerzy Smykla ; Ryan A. Sponseller ; Franco Teixeira-de Mello ; Sirje Vilbaste ; Verónica D. Villanueva ; Jackson R. Webster ; Stefan Woelfl ; Marguerite A. Xenopoulos ; Adam G. Yates ; Catherine M. Yule ; Yixin Zhang ; Jacob A. Zwart

The research team used a standardized, low-nutrient organic matter substrate (cotton strips) to quantify nutrient immobilization at 100 paired stream and riparian sites representing 11 biomes worldwide. Immobilization rates varied by three orders of magnitude, were greater in rivers than riparian zones, and were strongly correlated to decomposition rates. 

November 2022
Environmental Microbiology. - 24(2022)11, 5051 - 5065

Perchlorate-specific proteomic stress responses of Debaryomyces hansenii could enable microbial survival in Martian brines

Jacob Heinz ; Joerg Doellinger ; Deborah Maus ; Andy Schneider ; Peter Lasch ; Hans-Peter Grossart ; Dirk Schulze-Makuch

No life has yet been found on Mars, but it is exciting to explore under what circumstances it might be possible. The authors have studied the cellular processes that regulate the adaptation of microorganisms to perchlorates. If microorganisms could genetically adapt their stress response to this salt, their survival on the red planet might be possible.

November 2022
Nature Communications. - 13(2022), Art. 4974

Towards critical white ice conditions in lakes under global warming

Gesa A. Weyhenmeyer ... Hans-Peter Grossart ...

The quality of lake ice is of paramount importance for ice safety and lake ecology under ice. In 2020/2021, the researchers conducted a coordinated sampling campaign of lake ice quality during one of the warmest winters since 1880. They showed that lake ice during this period generally consisted of unstable white ice, which at times accounted for up to 100 percent of the total ice thickness.

November 2022
Limnology and Oceanography Letters. - XX(20XX)XX, XX

Environmental variability in aquatic ecosystems: avenues for future multifactorial experiments

Miriam Gerhard ... Stella A. Berger ... Jens C. Nejstgaard ...

Variability is inherent to all natural ecosystems, yet the consequences of alterations to existing variability patterns in environmental factors expected under global change scenarios remain unclear. The authors identified sources of mismatches, challenges, and knowledge gaps to contribute to a research agenda on the effects of variability in aquatic systems. T

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