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Current projects

DFG Research Training Group Baltic TRANSCOAST

IAMM - Interactions among marine microbes as they grow and die: linking experiments and genome-scale models

NanoSIMS analysis of microbial driven nutrient turnover in the Baltic Sea ecosystem

NiFiM - Stickstofffixierung in der monsunbeeinflussten Flussfahne des Mekong

Finalised projects

The DFG Research Training Group "Baltic TRANSCOAST" – understanding the coastal ecocline

Baltic TRANSCOAST follows a comprehensive and innovative qualification plan to offer early stage researchers an excellent education in several fields in the marine and terrestrial sciences, advised by leading scientists. The PhD students will gain wide and inter-disciplinary expertise in coastal research.

Baltic TRANSCOAST investigates the hydrodynamic, (bio)geochemical and biological processes at the interface between land and sea. Globally, coastal zones are the regions that are most transformed and used by man. A fundamental understanding of flat coastal areas, which are characterised by intensive interactions between land and sea, is essential for developing sustainable management strategies.

Baltic TRANSCOAST addresses, in interdisciplinary research topics, the water and matter fluxes in and between a coastal peatland and the adjacent shallow sea as well as the interactions with the biota. Rostock as a research location is well suited for inter-disciplinary research because biologists, chemists, physicists and environmental scientists of three faculties of the University of Rostock as well as of the Leibniz institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) are working closely together.

Contakt: Dr. Maren Voß

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COCOA BLOG

Dana Hellemann (PhD student Uni Helsinki)

Insights into the biogeochemistry work of the COCOA project: from the water column to the sediment, from the field to the lab. Secrets of the coastal filter and a life in aquatic sciences.

IAMM - Interactions among marine microbes as they grow and die: linking experiments and genome-scale models

(Human Frontier Science Program 2016-2019)

The oceans are teeming with microbial life, which impacts global biogeochemistry, climate and human health. Omics methods enable us to identify "who is there" and their genetic potential, but understanding how these organisms interact in nature and how they affect biogeochemical processes remains a major open challenge. A crucial component of this puzzle, at the heart of the cycling of nutrients in the biosphere, is the coupling between organisms that fix carbon using solar energy (phytoplankton) and microbes that rely on organic carbon for energy and growth (heterotrophs). The diversity of microbial species and the richness of their metabolism make the problem of predicting how each pair of species will interact impossible to address using traditional approaches. This project will tackle this challenge through a tightly integrated combination of genome scale modeling and laboratory experiments, to identify genomic traits dictating how environmentally-relevant microbes interact. Our approach, will provide a critical stepping-stone towards predicting how marine microbial systems will evolve in a changing world.

Contakt: Dr. Maren Voß, Dr. Angela Vogts

NanoSIMS analysis of microbial driven nutrient turnover in the Baltic Sea ecosystem

NanoSIMS lab at the Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde

Since late 2011 a powerful instrument funded by the German Ministry for Science and Education is operated by the Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW). The project proposal was a cooperation of the IOW and the University of Rostock and the instrument is used by scientists of both institutions. NanoSIMS is the abbreviation for secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS) performing in the range of up to a few Nanometres (Nano). With this instrument up to seven isotopes and/or elements can be analysed and quantified in the subcellular level or in inorganic particles. Elemental compositions of such materials can be received with a lateral resolution of up to 50 Nanometres.

Example of a NanoSIMS-Picture analysis. 12C ion signal showing a cyanobacteria on a filter

A well-established application is the single cell analysis of microorganisms. In this field isotope labelling experiments are of special interest. The uptake of isotopically labelled nutrients can be quantified on the single cell level by NanoSIMS analyses. Thus, e.g., C-, N- und S-nutrient cycling can be connected to the organisms performing this processes in lab cultures and natural habitats. From single cell results rates for larger areas like the redoxcline or the whole Baltic Sea can be extrapolated and the results can also be implemented in ecosystem modelling. 

Contakt: Dr. Maren Voß, Dr. Angela Vogts

NiFiM - Stickstofffixierung in der monsunbeeinflussten Flussfahne des Mekong

(2016 - 2018)

The South China Sea (SCS) is the largest marginal sea in the world, surrounded by densley populated coastal states like China, Indonesia, Philippines or Vietnam. Climate change and strong anthropogenic impacts (18 major damming for hydropower are planned, aquaculture is increasing) in the catchment area of River Mekong will change riverine loads with the consequence of changes in near coastal biogeochemistry. The speed and magnitude of anthropogenic changes in the Mekong basin make it very likely that the proposed field program will be one of the few opportunities to study the SCS before significant changes in nutrient and organic matter loading occur as a result of anthropogenic impact in the river basin. The present role of the Mekong for the productivity of the SCS in comparison to upwelling nutrients will be studied. Previous results from us have suggested a strong role of diazotroph-diatom associations (DDA) in the river plume even in the presence of high nitrate concentrations, but also unicellular and colony forming cyanobacteria like Trichodesmium are present. Nutrient concentrations and nutrient ratios have been suggested to play a major role for the abundance and activity of the nitrogen fixing species and will be a focus of this study. Nutrient concentrations will be measured and the uptake of nitrogen and carbon will be quantified in field samples and specific incubation experiments. Bulk fixation rates of various N-fixing groups can be determined with isotope ratio mass spectrometry and on a cellular basis studied with NanoSIMS technology. Moreover, US and Vietnamese scientists will contribute important information on species composition and metabolic activity of nitrogen fixing communities. The outcome of this project will provide a solid understanding of the role of the Mekong river plume and upwelling processes on the N-fixing organisms in the coastal SCS. Future changes in river biogeochemistry can thus be evaluated on the basis of these results.

Two cruises to the SCS are financed by an approved proposal of Schmidt’s Oceanographic Institute. Field sampling and experimental work on board is thus secured. Moreover, previous DFG funding established close collaboration with the Institute of Oceanography in Nha Trang so that the proposed work builds upon an established Vietnamese-German collaboration.

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Follow 3 members of our working group on a cruise to the South China Sea
A Changing River: Measuring Nutrient fluxes to the South China Sea - LEG1 (03.06.-17.06.2016)


Contakt: Dr. Maren Voß