(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 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

June 2022
Frontiers in Microbiology. - 13(2022), Art. 805694

Antarctic glacial meltwater impacts the diversity of fungal parasites associated with benthic diatoms in shallow coastal zones

Doris Ilicic; Jason Woodhouse; Ulf Karsten; Jonas Zimmermann; Thomas Wichard; Maria Liliana Quartino; Gabriela Laura Campana; Alexandra Livenets; Silke Van den Wyngaert; Hans-Peter Grossart

First study on the fungal diversity in Antarctic benthic habitats along a salinity gradient to determine the co-occurrence of fungal parasites with their algal hosts dominated by benthic diatoms. Ascomycota and Chytridiomycota are the most abundant fungal taxa. Salinity shapes the fungal and the whole eukaryotic community composition, whereby fungal diversity increases with decreasing salinity.

June 2022
Biogeosciences. - 19(2022)11, 2841–2853

Dissolved organic matter signatures in urban surface waters: spatio-temporal patterns and drivers

Clara Romero González-Quijano; Sonia Herrero Ortega; Peter Casper; Mark O. Gessner; Gabriel A. Singer

The authors studied the dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition from streams, rivers, ponds and lakes within Berlin. They found DOM from lakes and ponds to differ greatly from that of streams and rivers in composition and temporal turnover. Urban land use, nutrient supply and point source pollution were the main drivers of DOM. This suggests including DOM composition in regular monitoring.

Platzhalter Publikations-Cover
May 2022
Earth system science data. - 14(2021)4, S. 1857–1867

Spatial and seasonal patterns of water isotopes in northeastern German lakes

Bernhard Aichner; David Dubbert; Christine Kiel; Katrin Kohnert; Igor Ogashawara; Andreas Jechow; Sarah-Faye Harpenslager; Franz Hölker; Jens Christian Nejstgaard; Hans-Peter Grossart; Gabriel Singer; Sabine Wollrab; Stella Angela Berger

In course of measuring campaigns, the spatial and temporal dynamics of water isotopes in northeastern German lakes were evaluated. The data will serve as basis for further studies, for example with respect to connectivity of lakes and biochemical processes in macrophytes.

May 2022
Limnology and Oceanography. - 67(2022)6, 1402-1415

Flexible habitat choice of pelagic bacteria increases system stability and energy flow through the microbial loop

Luis Alberto Villalba; Rajat Karnatak; Hans-Peter Grossart; Sabine Wollrab

The theoretical study evaluated the microbial dynamics of particle-associated vs free-living bacteria. Bacterial generalists have the ability to utilize both habitats and increase stability and energy transport through the 'microbial loop'. Adaptive response strategies of bacteria are important to assess the consequences of increasing particle loads, e.g., sediment and microplastics.

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