Soil ecology geochemistry


Rhizosphere Ecology & Biogeochemistry

Rhizosphere Ecology & Biogeochemistry

Fundamental research activities of the Rhizosphere Ecology & Biogeochemistry Group are focussed on exploring plant rhizosphere and soil processes, with emphasis on root growth, root activities and their interaction with soil and microbial processes from the molecular to the field scale. Emphasis is put on the development of new tools and applications for root exudate sampling (e.g. exudate collectors), high-resolution chemical imaging (e.g. LA-ICPMS, planar optodes) of biogeochemical processes in rhizosphere soils, and flux measurements of nutrients and pollutants using diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT). Applied research addresses some of the most crucial global challenges such as food security and safety, global warming and soil degradation by developing enhanced soil and rhizosphere management approaches for sustainable agriculture, soil protection and remediation. Currently, emphasis is given to improving bioavailability and nutrient use efficiency in the plant rhizosphere. Similarly, novel techniques of rhizosphere manipulation for pollutant management in agriculture and phytoremediation are developed and tested at various scales.

Contact: Univ.Prof. Walter Wenzel

Further information: www.wabo.boku.ac.at/en/ibf/

Contaminant Biogeochemistry

Contaminant Biogeochemistry

The Work Group Contaminant Biogeochemistry focuses on the characterization of biogeochemical transformation processes for pollutant and non-pollutant hydrocarbons in the subsurface, comprising vadose and saturated zones as well as reservoirs of fossil fuels. Fundamental aspects of abiotic and microbially mediated transformation (metabolisation and mineralisation) and sequestration processes as well as the dyamics of associated microbial populations are investigated (metagenomics). This refers to substituted and unsubstituted, toxic or non-toxic hydrocarbons of fossil and anthropogenic origin, including chlorinated solvents (CAH), pesticides, tar and creosote (PAH) and crude oil and its products (TPH). The investigated processes may also serve as the driving force for sustainable in situ remediation technologies for contaminated sites, thus contributing to the protection of our most essential resources: soil & water. The investigation of the environmental behavior of non-contaminant hydrocarbons, e.g. crude oil biomarkers, contributes to the assessment of source-receptor relations (forensics) and petroleum genesis.   

Contact: Priv.Doz. Dr. Kerstin Scherr