We want to learn which groups of soil microorganisms are responsible for particular biogeochemical processes and to understand the reason why. For this purpose we investigate biogeochemical processes involved in the exchange of climatically relevant trace gases (CH4, N2O, H2) between soil and atmosphere. A particular focus is on processes in flooded rice fields, which we have used during the last twenty five years as a model system for studying biogeochemistry and ecology of soil microbes.
Our research is focused on the mechanisms that enable biotrophic fungi to colonize plants and to cause disease. We study the molecular function of secreted effectors of the corn smut fungus Ustilago maydis which serves as a model for the large group of basidiomycete plant pathogens. This fungus produces more than 200 completely novel effector candidates whose expression occurs in discrete waves during plant colonization. Our goal is to determine where these effectors end up after being secreted, what their molecular function is, how they have evolved in the arms-race between pathogen and host and how their expression is regulated.
Biochemistry, physiology and ecology of anaerobic bacteria and archaea with a focus on the enzymes and coenzymes involved in the energy metabolism of Clostridia, of sulfate-reducing bacteria and archaea, of methanogenic and methanotrophic archaea, and of aerobic methanotrophic bacteria.