The mission of the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology is to understand how microorganisms function at the molecular, cellular, and community levels. In particular, we aim to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the metabolic diversity of microorganisms, their ability to adapt and differentiate in response to changes in the environment, the mechanisms involved in cell cycle regulation and cell polarity as well as the biogeochemical processes involved in the exchange of climatically relevant trace gases. These analyses include all levels of microbial functions from the atomic/structural level, the genomic, molecular and cellular levels, biochemistry/physiology to the microbial community level and plant–microbe interactions.
Research at the institute is carried out in four departments. In addition the institute hosts three Max Planck Research Groups, one Emmy Noether Research Group, three department-independent research group, two Emeritus groups, and one Max Planck Fellow.