Research Themes

The research of the Microbial Ecology Group at the University of Zürich focuses

on complex interactions in microbial ecosystems,
on the diversity of extremophiles and their adaptability to harsh environmental conditions,
on the evolution of ecosystem flexibility and complexity and
on the physiological mechanisms in Se-nanoparticles producing microbes.

Applying in situ and in vitro approaches, we are studying life strategies in biofilms from cold-extreme habitats, e.g. psychrophilic microbes indigenous to pristine high mountain oligotrophic lakes and those present in seasonally changing redox transients in lakes and sediments.

For this we first initiated the Lago Cadagno research facility and maintain today a high-mountain research station in the Jöri lake catchment (2640 m). Some of our research is carried out at the Jungfraujoch research facility (3500 m).

At high mountain lakes we are studying geochemical nutrient accumulation and try to find out when and why cyanobacteria form toxins even under oligotrophy in the cold, and how microbial communities selectively adapt to changing environmental conditions. In air, snow and ice at the Jungfraujoch site we are studying the long range transport of "living particles" via the atmosphere, particularly their origin and survival.

On a more theoretical level, we are applying simulation and modelling to microbial processes and ecosystem functions.

Microbial ecology and diversity of freshwater ecosystems:
Phosphorus and Iron Cycling: Geobiology in aquatic ecosystems
High Moutain Lakes as Indicators of Environmental Changes
Environmental Regulation of Toxin Production by Cyanobacteria in cold-extreme Mountain Habitats

Environmental and evolutionary microbiology:
Corrosive Biofilm Formation

Gene Proliferation by horizontal Gene Transfer, evolutionary Ecology and microbiological Safety