• Global Warming:

    the threat of a permafrost Carbon – climate feedback

  • We develop and improve

    stable isotopes techniques for ecological applications

  • Plants, fungi and bacteria interact

    at the root-soil interface

  • Probing the future:

    Climate Change experiments

  • Soil is fundamental to human life

  • Tropical rainforests

    hold the key to global net primary productivity

TER News

  • SEACUE: New FWF Project for Jörg Schnecker


    Jörg Schnecker has recently received funding for a new project called "SEACUE - Seasonal dynamics of soil microbial carbon sequestration" from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). 

    Congratulations Jörg! ...

  • SINA 2017


    SINA 15th Stable Isotope Network Austria Meeting - 24th-25th of Nov, 2017

    The 15th Stable Isotope Network Austria (SINA) Meeting is organized by the Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science and ...

  • New Paper in Ecology Letters: Optimal metabolic regulation along resource stoichiometry gradients


    Most heterotrophic organisms feed on substrates that are poor in nutrients compared to their
    demand, leading to elemental imbalances that may constrain their growth and function. Flexible
    carbon ...

  • David & Daniel

    DD - Day for Daniel & David


    Congratulations to Daniel Wasner and David Zezula, who successfully defended their Master thesis on ecological and physiological aspects of the phosphorus cycle on Friday 28 July! Excellent, David & Daniel! ...

Latest publications

Mineral-Associated Soil Carbon is Resistant to Drought but Sensitive to Legumes and Microbial Biomass in an Australian Grassland

Drought is predicted to increase in many areas of the world with consequences for soil carbon (C) dynamics. Plant litter, root exudates and microbial biomass can be used as C substrates to form organo-mineral complexes. Drought effects on plants and microbes could potentially compromise these relative stable soil C pools, by reducing plant C inputs and/or microbial activity. We conducted a 2-year drought experiment using rainout shelters in a semi-natural grassland. We measured aboveground biomass and C and nitrogen (N) in particulate organic matter (Pom), the organo-mineral fraction (Omin), and microbial biomass within the first 15 cm of soil. Aboveground plant biomass was reduced by 50% under drought in both years, but only the dominant C4 grasses were significantly affected. Soil C pools were not affected by drought, but were significantly higher in the relatively wet second year compared to the first year. Omin-C was positively related to microbial C during the first year, and positively related to clay and silt content in the second year. Increases in Omin-C in the second year were explained by increases in legume biomass and its effect on Pom-N and microbial biomass N (MBN) through structural equation modeling. In conclusion, soil C pools were unaffected by the drought treatment. Drought resistant legumes enhanced formation of organo-mineral complexes through increasing Pom-N and MBN. Our findings also indicate the importance of microbes for the formation of Omin-C as long as soil minerals have not reached their maximum capacity to bind with C (that is, saturation).

Canarini A, Mariotte P, Ingram L, Merchant A, Dijkstra FA
2017 - Ecosystems, 1-15

Soil carbon loss regulated by drought intensity and available substrate: A meta-analysis

Drought is one of the most important climate change factors, but its effects on ecosystems are little
understood. While known to influence soil carbon (C) cycling, it remains unresolved if altered rainfall
patterns induced by climate change will stimulate positive feedbacks of CO2 into the atmosphere. Using a
meta-analysis frame-work including 1495 observations from 60 studies encompassing a variety of
ecosystems and soil types, we investigated drought effects on respiration rates, cumulative respiration
during drying-rewetting cycles, metabolic quotient (qCO2), dissolved organic C (DOC), microbial biomass
and fungi to bacteria (F:B) ratios from laboratory and field experiments. We show that C-rich soils (>2%
organic carbon) increase CO2 release into the atmosphere after intense droughts, but that C-poor soils
show a net decline in C losses. We explain this self-reinforcing mechanism of climate change in C-rich
soils by: (i) high substrate availability that magnify bursts of CO2 release after drought events and (ii) a
shift in microbial community with increased loss of C per unit of biomass. These findings shed light on
important responses of soil CO2 emissions to drought, which could either offset or facilitate positive
feedbacks to global warming. Our results should be considered in global climate models, as even small
changes in soil CO2 emission have large repercussions for global warming.

Canarini A, Kiær LP, Dijkstra FA
2017 - Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 112: 90-99

Lecture series

Microbial function in relation to plant productivity and root exudation in contrasting tundra communities

Konstantin GAVAZOV
Climate Impacts Research Centre (CIRC), Umeå University, Abisko, Sweden
14:00 h
Seminar Room 'Konferenzraum Ökologie' UZA 1, Althanstr. 14, 1090 Wien

LC-MS Approaches in Metabolomics

Gunda Köllensperger, Prof.
University of Vienna, Department of Analytical Chemistry
11:15 h
Seminar Room Microbial Ecology, UZA 1, room no 2.309

Arbuscular mycorrhizas and organic nitrogen in soil – and the other microbes involved

Jan Jasna
Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
16:00 h
Friedrich-Becke Seminar Room, UZA 2 (Geozentrum), Althanstr. 14, 1090 Wien