• CUBE - Computational Systems Biology

  • DOME - Microbial Ecology

  • TER - Terrestrial Ecosystem Research


  • New FWF project for Kenneth Wasmund


    Kenneth Wasmund from the group of Alexander Loy has received funding for his project "Missing links in the marine sulfur cycle – identity and functions of microorganisms utilizing sulfur cycle intermediates and organic sulfur molecules in marine sediments" from the ...

  • Summer Research Experience @ TER


    Three positions are available for Masters students during the summer 2016, that will provide a unique opportunity to participate in one of the research projects and become member of the scientific team at TER.
    Interested students should apply for ...

  • Two China Scholarship Council Fellowships


    Associate Prof. Dr. Bao-Zhan Wang (Institute of Soil Science) and Dr. Li-Jun Zhou (Institute of Geography and Limnology), Chinese Academy of Sciences in Nanjing obtained scholarships from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) that will sponsor one-year research stays at DOME. Both scientists will work ...

  • CUBE observes the mercury transit


    During the afternoon of May 9th the planet mercury has (slightly) obstructed the sun. Mercury became visible in front of the sun at 13:12 and did not leave the sun until sunset. CUBE has observed the cosmic spectacle on the ...

Latest publications

Suppressed recombination and unique candidate genes in the divergent haplotype encoding Fhb1, a major Fusarium head blight resistance locus in wheat.

Fine mapping and sequencing revealed 28 genes in the non-recombining haplotype containing Fhb1 . Of these, only a GDSL lipase gene shows a pathogen-dependent expression pattern. Fhb1 is a prominent Fusarium head blight resistance locus of wheat, which has been successfully introgressed in adapted breeding material, where it confers a significant increase in overall resistance to the causal pathogen Fusarium graminearum and the fungal virulence factor and mycotoxin deoxynivalenol. The Fhb1 region has been resolved for the susceptible wheat reference genotype Chinese Spring, yet the causal gene itself has not been identified in resistant cultivars. Here, we report the establishment of a 1 Mb contig embracing Fhb1 in the donor line CM-82036. Sequencing revealed that the region of Fhb1 deviates from the Chinese Spring reference in DNA size and gene content, which explains the repressed recombination at the locus in the performed fine mapping. Differences in genes expression between near-isogenic lines segregating for Fhb1 challenged with F. graminearum or treated with mock were investigated in a time-course experiment by RNA sequencing. Several candidate genes were identified, including a pathogen-responsive GDSL lipase absent in susceptible lines. The sequence of the Fhb1 region, the resulting list of candidate genes, and near-diagnostic KASP markers for Fhb1 constitute a valuable resource for breeding and further studies aiming to identify the gene(s) responsible for F. graminearum and deoxynivalenol resistance.

Schweiger W, Steiner B, Vautrin S, Nussbaumer T, Siegwart G, Zamini M, Jungreithmeier F, Gratl V, Lemmens M, Mayer KF, Bérgès H, Adam G, Buerstmayr H
2016 - Theor. Appl. Genet., in press

L-System model for the growth of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, both within and outside of their host roots

Development of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal colonization of roots and the surrounding soil is the central process of mycorrhizal symbiosis, important for ecosystem functioning and commercial inoculum applications. To improve mechanistic understanding of this highly spatially and temporarily dynamic process, we developed a three-dimensional model taking into account growth of the roots and hyphae. It is for the first time that infection within the root system is simulated dynamically and in a spatially resolved way. Comparison between data measured in a calibration experiment and simulated results showed a good fit. Our simulations showed that the position of the fungal inoculum affects the sensitivity of hyphal growth parameters. Variation in speed of secondary infection and hyphal lifetime had a different effect on root infection and hyphal length, respectively, depending on whether the inoculum was concentrated or dispersed. For other parameters (branching rate, distance between entry points), the relative effect was the same independent of inoculum placement. The model also indicated that maximum root colonization levels well below 100%, often observed experimentally, may be a result of differential spread of roots and hyphae, besides intrinsic plant control, particularly upon localized placement of inoculum and slow secondary infection.

Schnepf A, Leitner D, Schweiger P, Scholl P, Jansa J
2016 - Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 117: 11

Soil microbial carbon use efficiency and biomass turnover in a long-term fertilization experiment in a temperate grassland

Soil microbial carbon use efficiency (CUE), defined as the ratio of organic C allocated to growth over organic C taken up, strongly affects soil carbon (C) cycling. Despite the importance of the microbial CUE for the terrestrial C cycle, very little is known about how it is affected by nutrient availability. Therefore, we studied microbial CUE and microbial biomass turnover time in soils of a long-term fertilization experiment in a temperate grassland comprising five treatments (control, PK, NK, NP, NPK). Microbial CUE and the turnover of microbial biomass were determined using a novel substrate-independent method based on incorporation of 18O from labeled water into microbial DNA. Microbial respiration was 28–37% smaller in all three N treatments (NK, NP, and NPK) compared to the control, whereas the PK treatment did not affect microbial respiration. N-fertilization decreased microbial C uptake, while the microbial growth rate was not affected. Microbial CUE ranged between 0.31 and 0.45, and was 1.3- to 1.4-fold higher in the N-fertilized soils than in the control. The turnover time ranged between 80 and 113 days and was not significantly affected by fertilization. Net primary production (NPP) and the abundance of legumes differed strongly across the treatments, and the fungal:bacterial ratio was very low in all treatments. Structural equation modeling revealed that microbial CUE was exclusively controlled by N fertilization and that neither the abundance of legumes (as a proxy for the quality of the organic matter inputs) nor NPP (as a proxy for C inputs) had an effect on microbial CUE. Our results show that N fertilization did not only decrease microbial respiration, but also microbial C uptake, indicating that less C was intracellularly processed in the N fertilized soils. The reason for reduced C uptake and increased CUE in the N-fertilization treatments is likely an inhibition of oxidative enzymes involved in the degradation of aromatic compounds by N in combination with a reduced energy requirement for microbial N acquisition in the fertilized soils. In conclusion, the study shows that N availability can control soil C cycling by affecting microbial CUE, while plant community-mediated changes in organic matter inputs and P and K availability played no important role for C partitioning of the microbial community in this temperate grassland.

Spohn M, Pötsch EM, Eichorst SA, Woebken D, Wanek W, Richter A
2016 - Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 97: 168-175