• Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science

  • CUBE - Computational Systems Biology

  • DOME - Microbial Ecology

  • EDGE - Environmental Geosciences

  • TER - Terrestrial Ecosystem Research


Latest publications

Is too much fertilizer a problem?

Fertilizers are added to crops in order to produce enough food to feed the human population. Fertilizers provide crops with nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen, which allow crops to grow bigger, faster, and to produce more food. Nitrogen in particular is an essential nutrient for the growth of every organismon Earth.Nitrogen is all around us and makes up about 78% of the air you breathe. However, plants and animals cannot use the nitrogen gas in the air. To grow, plants require nitrogen compounds fromthe soil,which can be produced naturally or be provided by fertilizers. However, applying excessive amounts of fertilizer leads to the release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the eutrophication of our waterways. Scientists are currently trying to find solutions to reduce the environmentally harmful effects of fertilizers, without reducing the amount of food we can produce when using them.

Sedlacek CJ, Giguere AT, Pjevac P
2020 - Frontiers for Young Minds, 8: 63

Remediation of fluoride contaminated water using encapsulated active growing blue-green algae, Phormidium sp.

Elevated fluoride concentration in drinking water is a global concern that impacts health of millions. Developing low cost remediation methods empower communities with fewer resources available to protect their health.

Together with colleagues from CSIR India, and University of Tasmania in Australia, we have demonstrated that fluoride can be removed by using common blue-green algae, Phormidium sp. Using Response Surface Methodology (RSM) we were able to optimize parameters for the highest fluoride removal in our system. Further work is currently ongoing on process optimization to develop a household level pilot scale experimental reactor in a small village in eastern India.

Yamini Mittal, Pratiksha Srivastav, Naresh Kumar, Asheesh KumarYadav
2020 - Environmental Technology and Innovation, in press

Microbiome definition re-visited: old concepts and new challenges

The field of microbiome research has evolved rapidly over the past few decades, and has become a topic of great scientific and public interest. As a result of this rapid growth in interest covering different fields, we are lacking a clear commonly agreed definition of the term ‘microbiome’. Moreover, a consensus on best practices in microbiome research is missing. Recently, a panel of international experts discussed the current gaps in the frame of the European-funded MicrobiomeSupport project. The meeting brought together about 40 leaders from diverse microbiome areas, while more than a hundred experts from all over the world took part in an online survey accompanying the workshop. This article excerpts the outcomes of the workshop and the corresponding online survey embedded in a short historical introduction and future outlook. We propose a definition of microbiome based on the compact, clear and comprehensive description of the term provided by Whipps et al. in 1988, amended with a set of novel recommendations considering the latest technological developments and research findings. We clearly separate the terms microbiome and microbiota, and provide a comprehensive discussion considering the composition of microbiota, the heterogeneity and dynamics of microbiomes in time and space, the stability and resilience of microbial networks, the definition of core microbiomes and functionally relevant keystone species as well as coevolutionary principles of microbe-host and inter-species interactions within the microbiome. These broad definitions together with the suggested unifying concepts will help to improve standardization of microbiome studies in the future, and could be the starting point for an integrated assessment of data resulting in a more rapid transfer of knowledge from basic science into practice. Furthermore, microbiome standards are important for solving new challenges associated with anthropogenic-driven changes in the field of planetary health, for which the understanding of microbiomes might play a key role.

Berg G, Rybakova D, Fischer D, Cernava T, Champomier-Vergès MC, Charles T, Chen X, Cocolin L, Eversole K, Herrero-Corral G, Kazou M, Kinkel L, Lange L, Lima N, Loy A, Macklin JA, Maguin E, Mauchline T, McClure R, Mitter B, Ryan M, Sarand I, Smidt H, Schelkle B, Roume H, Kiran SG, Selvin J, de Souza RSC, van Overbeek L, Singh B, Wagner M, Walsh A, Sessitsch A, Schloter M
2020 - Microbiome, In press

Lecture series

Organic Contaminants in Reclaimed Wastewater – Environmental Fate and Accumulation in Crop Plants

Prof. Dr. Joel Pedersen
Department of Soil Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
16:30 h
Eberhard Clar-Saal (2B 204), Althanstrasse 14 UZA II, 1090 Vienna