(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

November 2023
Global Change Biology. - XX(2023)XX, e17013

Lake browning counteracts cyanobacteria responses to nutrients: Evidence from phytoplankton dynamics in large enclosure experiments and comprehensive observational data

Anne Lyche Solheim; Hege Gundersen; Ute Mischke; Birger Skjelbred; Jens C. Nejstgaard; Alexis L. N. Guislain; Erik Sperfeld; Darren P. Giling; Sigrid Haande; Andreas Ballot; S. Jannicke Moe; Susanne Stephan; Tim J. W. Walles; Andreas Jechow; Laetitia Minguez; Lars Ganzert; Thomas Hornick; Truls Hveem Hansson; Cleo N. Stratmann; Marko Järvinen; Stina Drakare; Laurence Carvalho; Hans-Peter Grossart; Mark O. Gessner; Stella A. Berger

This study combines experiments in large enclosures with a comprehensive time series and a field survey to assess the joint effects of storm-induced lake browning, nutrient enrichment and deep-mixing on phytoplankton.Browning decreases nutrient enrichment effects on phytoplankton, including shifts in the species composition from cyanobacteria and chlorophytes to mixotrophic cryptophytes. 

October 2023
Nature Protocols. - 18(2023) 3534–3564

Exposure protocol for ecotoxicity testing of microplastics and nanoplastics

Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh; Anders Baun; Nanna B. Hartmann; Raine Kortet; Jarkko Akkanen; Jae-Seong Lee; Huahong Shi; Elma Lahive; Emilia Uurasjärvi; Nathalie Tufenkji; Korinna Altmann; Yosri Wiesner; Hans-Peter Grossart; Willie Peijnenburg; Jussi V. K. Kukkonen

Despite the increasing concern about the harmful effects of micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs), so far, there exist no harmonised guidelines for testing the ecotoxicity of MNPs. An international research team with IGB has now developed protocols to assess the toxicity of these substances in soil and aquatic ecosystems.

September 2023
Biological Reviews. - 98(2023)5, 1530-1547

Hypotheses in urban ecology: building acommon knowledge base

Sophie Lokatis; Jonathan M. Jeschke; Maud Bernard-Verdier; Sascha Buchholz; Hans-Peter Grossart; Frank Havemann; Franz Hölker; Yuval Itescu; Ingo Kowarik; Stephanie Kramer-Schadt; Daniel Mietchen; Camille L. Musseau; Aimara Planillo; Conrad Schittko; Tanja M. Straka; Tina Heger

This study identified 62 research hypotheses used in urban ecology and mapped them in a conceptual network. It is the first such network, which also clusters urban ecology hypotheses into four distinct themes: (i) Urban species traits & evolution, (ii) Urban biotic communities, (iii) Urban habitats and (iv) Urban ecosystems.

September 2023
Nature. - 619(2023), S. 317–322

Plastic debris in lakes and reservoirs

Veronica Nava; Sudeep Chandra; Julian Aherne; María B. Alfonso; Ana M. Antão-Geraldes; Katrin Attermeyer; Roberto Bao; Mireia Bartrons; Stella A. Berger; Marcin Biernaczyk; Raphael Bissen; Justin D. Brookes; David Brown; Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles; Moisés Canle; Camilla Capelli; Rafael Carballeira; José Luis Cereijo; Sakonvan Chawchai; Søren T. Christensen; Kirsten S. Christoffersen; Elvira de Eyto; Jorge Delgado; Tyler N. Dornan; Jonathan P. Doubek; Julia Dusaucy; Oxana Erina; Zeynep Ersoy; Heidrun Feuchtmayr; Maria Luce Frezzotti; Silvia Galafassi; David Gateuille; Vitor Gonçalves; Hans-Peter Grossart; David P. Hamilton; Ted D. Harris; Külli Kangur; Gökben Başaran Kankılıç; Rebecca Kessler; Christine Kiel; Edward M. Krynak; Àngels Leiva-Presa; Fabio Lepori; Miguel G. Matias; Shin-ichiro S. Matsuzaki; Yvonne McElarney; Beata Messyasz; Mark Mitchell; Musa C. Mlambo; Samuel N. Motitsoe; Sarma Nandini; Valentina Orlandi; Caroline Owens; Deniz Özkundakci; Solvig Pinnow; Agnieszka Pociecha; Pedro Miguel Raposeiro; Eva-Ingrid Rõõm; Federica Rotta; Nico Salmaso; S. S. S. Sarma; Davide Sartirana; Facundo Scordo; Claver Sibomana; Daniel Siewert; Katarzyna Stepanowska; Ülkü Nihan Tavşanoğlu; Maria Tereshina; James Thompson; Monica Tolotti; Amanda Valois; Piet Verburg; Brittany Welsh; Brian Wesolek; Gesa A. Weyhenmeyer; Naicheng Wu; Edyta Zawisza; Lauren Zink; Barbara Leoni

Microplastics are found in lakes and reservoirs around the world. Pollution reaches even the most secluded places where human influence is minimal. Moreover, concentrations of microplastics in freshwaters are sometimes higher than in subtropical gyres, the marine areas where large amounts of waste accumulate. 

August 2023
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. - 89(2023)7, e00539-23

Phytoplankton Producer Species and Transformation of Released Compounds over Time Define Bacterial Communities following Phytoplankton Dissolved Organic Matter Pulses

Falk Eigemann; Eyal Rahav; Hans-Peter Grossart; Dikla Aharonovich; Maren Voss; Daniel Sher

Bacterial responses to phytoplankton exudates (DOMp) may be caused by different DOMp compositions. Thereby, the bacterial community leads to a succession of DOMp from highly to less bioavailable, reflected by the temporal presence of specific bacterial phylotypes. The exploitation of species-specific highly bioavailable compounds, results in a more similar remaining DOMp.


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