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Microbial Ecology

The microbial world represents the largest reservoir of biodiversity that also is fundamental to sustaining key ecosystem processes, including the terrestrial carbon and nutrient cycles and the maintenance of plant fertility, across the breadth of the Earth’s ecosystems. In order to understand the role of microbial communities in ecosystem processes and to solve the major problems associated with human impact on the environment, a comprehensive and fundamental knowledge of microbial ecology is essential. The focus of the Microbial Ecology Group is to understand the ecology, diversity and functions of microorganisms in natural and engineered ecosystems, and the research is organized in five major research themes.

 

Theme: Microbial control of biogeochemistry in soil

The central challenge within the field of microbial ecology is to link ecosystem functions to the structure of microbial communities. This research is targeted on interlinking soil carbon and nitrogen cycles with actively growing microorganisms in soil. Primarily dedicated to basic research, we address pressing environmental issues, such as the impact of climate and land-use change on ecosystem functioning and the role of soils in the global carbon cycle and in food security.
For more information, on go to the homepages of:

Johannes Rousk (johannes [dot] rousk [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Per Bengtson (per [dot] bengtson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)


Theme: Plant-microbial interactions

Plants form symbiosis with bacteria and fungi in the soil, which have fundamental importance for the biogeochemical cycling of elements. The research is broadly concerned with understanding the role of these interactions between plant and soil communities in regulating the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems, and their response to global change. Particular areas of focus include the importance of mycorrhizal fungi for soil carbon sequestration, soil aggregation and nutrient uptake, and the microbial ecology and biogeochemistry in the rhizosphere. Forest as well as agricultural ecosystems are included in the studies.

For more information, go to the homepages of:

Håkan Wallander (hakan [dot] wallander [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Per Bengtson (per [dot] bengtson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Johannes Rousk (johannes [dot] rousk [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Edith Hammer (edith [dot] hammer [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)

 

Theme: Simulating soil structure

Soil is an extremely heterogeneous environment, and microscale spatial structures are difficult to address in common controlled experiments. In order to study soil organisms under more realistic conditions, Edith Hammer has together with Pelle Ohlsson at LTH developed a technology which mimics the complex structures of a real soil, the soil microchip technology. These chips are transparent growth environments for microbes that can incorporate microscale labyrinths, chemical gradients and motile soil mineral particles, reduced to 2-D for optimal microscopic analysis. The chips act like a “window to the underground”, allowing us to eavesdrop on microbial behaviour, interactions, and to study processes performed by soil organisms, live at the scale of their cells. We are performing controlled experiments using tagged lab strains to study the phenomenon of physical organic matter stabilization, combining micro-spectroscopy with chip systems, and also incorporate the soil chips into real field soil to study community functions. 

For more information, go to the homepages of:

Edith Hammer (edith [dot] hammer [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)

 

Theme: Molecular science of biogeochemical processes 

The biogeochemical cycles of essential nutrients, including carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, are driven by the complex interactions between microbes and their immediate physical and chemical microenvironments. Within this research theme we focus on qualitative and quantitative investigations of the molecular biogeochemical processes that control these interactions. The research contributes to the molecular foundation necessary to understand soils and aquatic environments at a fundamental level and to predict the effect of any perturbation, such as climate change. We are an interdisciplinary research team of scientists from microbial ecology, molecular geochemistry, physical chemistry and computational biology.

For more information, go to the homepages of:

Anders Tunlid (anders [dot] tunlid [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Per Persson (per [dot] persson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Edith Hammer (edith [dot] hammer [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Emma Kritzberg (emma [dot] kritzberg [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Dimitri Floudas (dimitrios [dot] floudas [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Michiel Op De Beeck (michiel [dot] op_de_beeck [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Carl Troein (carl [dot] troein [at] thep [dot] lu [dot] se)
Ulf Olsson (ulf [dot] olsson [at] fkem1 [dot] lu [dot] se)
Milda Pucetaite (milda [dot] pucetaite [at] cec [dot] lu [dot] se)

 

Theme: Decomposition mechanisms of fungi at the molecular level

Fungi employ diverse mechanisms to access and decompose organic carbon and nitrogen and act on a large range of substrates starting from intact large biopolymers embedded in plant tissues towards highly modified organic matter bound on minerals. The collective action of fungal decomposition processes has tremendous impact on nutrient cycling playing role in the fate of carbon in soils. Currently, biopolymer decomposition by microbes is viewed largely as a network of enzymatic processes. However, non-enzymatic processes that include the action of secondary metabolites and metal ions are less understood. We are developing spectroscopic and X-ray scattering techniques to understand the molecular basis of both enzymatic and non-enzymatic mechanisms. Furthermore, using comparative approaches that combine genomic data and functional analyses we aim to understand the molecular evolution of decomposition in fungi. The development of such techniques could lead to more precise ways to identify and quantify microbial decomposition in wood tissues, soil environments and at single hyphal tips using the of soil microchip technology developed by Docent Edith Hammer. Moreover, the proposed activities could also lead to new ways to treat plant biomass for biotechnological application such as biofuel production and therefore they are connected to the industry. 

For more information, go to the homepages of:

Dimitri Floudas (dimitrios [dot] floudas [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Michiel Op De Beeck (michiel [dot] op_de_beeck [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Milda Pucetaite (milda [dot] pucetaite [at] cec [dot] lu [dot] se)
Anders Tunlid (anders [dot] tunlid [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Per Persson (per [dot] persson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)
Edith Hammer (edith [dot] hammer [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se)

 

Recent Publications

All project publications at Lund University Publication Database

Page Manager:

Contact information

Håkan Wallander
Professor
MEMEG

Telephone: +46 46-222 37 59
E-mail: hakan@wallander [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Lab Address

Microbial Ecology
Dept of Biology, Lund University
Ecology Building (Sölvegatan 37)
SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden